Spinal Surgery Is Far Less Invasive Than It Was
Back pain affects close to 65 million Americans. It’s one the most common reason for doctor visits and work absences. Chances are, everyone will experience severe back pain at some point in life, but fortunately, only a small percentage of back pain cases are serious enough to warrant surgery. Dr. Ronnie I Mimran of the Pacific Brain & Spine Medical Group looks for minimally invasive surgery techniques and solutions when possible. His practice focuses on surgical and non-surgical treatment of brain and spinal disorders.
Tell me a little about your practice.
I perform a variety of surgeries, however, I specialize in minimally invasive surgery using a technology called spinal navigation. I work with a team of associates who are all cross-trained, and who bring their knowledge and specialties to bear—we can’t be experts in all areas. As a spinal surgery specialist, I assist my colleagues with their challenging spine surgery patients. This collaborative approach helps ensure the optimal outcome for our patients.
Our reputation of excellence is increasing daily, and we’ll be officially launching our highly regarded spine center in the next few weeks.
How does your practice differ from other physicians?
I’m one of the few doctors in the Bay Area using a computer-assisted technology called spinal navigation for spine surgery. This technology combines a 3D image of the spine with intraoperative navigation, providing a greater degree of accuracy—and safety—for my patients. This is critical for complex problems and severe spinal conditions, especially those brought on by trauma.
How has spinal surgery changed in the past decade?
Without today’s modern tools and techniques, yesterday’s surgeries resulted in lots of destruction and protracted recovery times. Today, we are addressing problems in a much more minimally invasive way. Ten to 15 years ago, it was common to spend a week in the hospital with extended rehabilitation and loss of some mobility.
Computer-assisted Intraoperative navigation systems are like having a GPS for the spine. It takes the guesswork out of the equation by providing a comprehensive, real-time 3D image of the spine during surgery. These tools also help decrease the amount of time we spend operating, and increase our accuracy by an order of magnitude.
Improvements in techniques, coupled with a greater understanding of what generates pain, allow us to see what can and can’t be fixed. Today, most standard operations are performed as outpatient surgeries, sometimes requiring an overnight stay, but ultimately, they should result in minimal disruption to our patients’ lives.
What should a patient expect from spine surgery?
In the past, it would have been one of the biggest days of our patient’s lives, with the expectation that they might never be quite the same. I tailor my surgery to a patient’s lifestyle and try not to do anything that would modify activities. Today, it’s very reasonable to expect that after surgery a patient will be as good—if not better—than before the onset of back problems.
What are some common misconceptions about spine surgery?
Most people believe spine surgery will alter their lives significantly and require a lengthy and painful recovery. Advances in technology enable us to perform minimally invasive surgeries; however, recovery shouldn’t be rushed, and our patient should allow sufficient time to heal.
Pacific Brain & Spine Medical Group, Inc.
80 Grand Ave., Ste. 300, Oakland, 510-886-3138
20055 Lake Chabot Rd., Ste. 110, Castro Valley, 510-886-3138
1320 El Capitan Dr., Ste. 300, Danville, 925-884-2360