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Severe pain in the lower back may induce spine surgery.

Staying Awake During Spine Surgery Can Fasten Recovery

By Harshita  •  

A new study found that remaining awake during a spine surgery can reduce the patient’s recovery time in half.

This new experiment was successfully conducted by a neurosurgeon named Praveen Mummaneni from University of California San Francisco.

So far, 10 patients have been treated under this exceptional and extraordinary spine surgery method wherein the patient is asked to stay awake throughout the process of the surgery.

The surgery is conducted through a process called transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion or TLIF. It normally takes 2-3 hours to complete the procedure. The patient is given a different type of anesthetic called liposomal bupivacaine. It is a long-lasting anesthetic which is capable of keeping the patient out of pain for up to 72 hours.

Liposomal bupivacaine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Patients may continue to take oral pain medication for a week or two after these 72 hours but overall pain is much less as compared to the traditional form of conducting this surgery.

The regular surgery with regular anesthesia takes about 4 hours for conduction and 3-4 days of hospital stay. The new surgery with the patient being awake during its conduction has reduced this time to half as the patient can get discharged from the hospital in just 24 hours.

Due to this new anesthesia, the risk of side effects such as postoperative nausea and delirium is reduced in patients. Also, patients are not required to be kept on a ventilator or breathing tube during the surgery.

The benefits of this awake spine surgery include needlessness of postoperative IV narcotics to conduct the surgery. Also, patients can get back to their normal routine including all recreational and work activities as the recovery after surgery is fastened.

David B., a patient who underwent this awake spine surgery said, “At first I thought ‘Do I really want to be awake for this?’ But in reality, it was more like being pleasantly oblivious. I was not aware of anything that was going on. It was sleepy time.”

He added, “I’ve had so many surgeries. I’m hardly a rookie with this. I have zero pain now. It was less time in the hospital, less impact on your body, recovery is accelerated, and there’s less need to use pain meds.” Dr. Mummaneni said, “The procedure is relatively new. It’s changing my practice in that I can get my patients through their surgery much more quickly.”

Severe pain in the lower back may induce spine surgery. According to an article published by Indian Journal of Pain in 2016, about 42% of the Indian population suffered from low back pain. Out of this, the majority i.e 60.9% were women.

In other countries of the world including North America, China, Canada, UK, Nigeria, the prevalence of lower back pain was 6.8%, 64%, 28.4%, 14%, 72.4% respectively.

This new spine surgery is now accessible by a greater range of people including those having tolerating general anesthesia, such as elderly patients as well as those who would benefit from traditional spinal fusion or decompression surgery.

To make sure whether a patient can undergo awake surgery or not, reviews through MRI and clinic notes are done.

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