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Carlos Bagley, M.D. Answers Questions On Complex Spine Surgery

Carlos Bagley, M.D. Answers Questions On: Complex Spine Surgery

What makes complex spine surgery so complex?

Spine care is on a spectrum. There are things that we consider fairly straightforward to treat that most anyone who has trained within a certain discipline, whether it be orthopaedics or neurosurgery, would be reasonably and competently trained to handle.

Beyond that, there are more complex, complicated pathologies or treatments that require a more advanced skill set. This comes with training and experience. Many on our team have done advanced fellowships in spinal surgery that gave us advanced skills beyond what we received in our residencies, allowing us to meet the needs of complex cases with highly technical, complex techniques.

What types of patients are good candidates for complex spine surgeries?

It’s not uncommon for me to see a patient who has been told that nothing can be done for his or her problem. In a lot of those cases, there’s nothing “easy” that can be done, but there are treatments available for the patient who has a surgeon with the right skill set and techniques for a more complex case.

That said, the right patient for complex spine surgery varies. It depends on patient factors, the technical aspects of the surgery required, and the patient’s goals. Making complex surgeries successful requires a partnership between the surgical team and the patient, because we can accomplish things in the operating room but then there is still work to be done by the patient after surgery for a successful outcome.

What are the latest treatments or technologies you’re using for complex spinal surgeries?

We’re exploring different endoscopic techniques that are allowing complex surgeries to be done on a much smaller scale, less invasively than they once were. We’re always exploring new surgical techniques that allow different approaches to problems while decreasing the morbidity of the patient.

What can a patient generally expect after complex spine surgery?

It depends on the situation, but, generally, there are going to be challenges that must be met with commitment and optimism. You have to believe that you will get better, and you have to be committed to rehabbing and really strengthening your body. Patients are not just recovering from the surgical procedure. They’re also recovering from their decline that led up to the need for the procedure.

What I would advise patients to expect is that it’s going to be an active process. It’s not a situation where you have surgery and you wait for the calendar to turn and all of a sudden you’re better. Time does help, but the effort the patient puts into it will have a direct correlation with his or her ultimate outcome.