Why do I do Awake Spine Surgery
Awake Spine Surgery is an enhanced recovery protocol that allows patients to recover faster, mobilize quickly after spine surgery, with overall less pain.
I became interested in awake spine surgery in 2014 when I became involved in a research study looking at why patients develop delirium after surgery. During that study we found that elderly patients who have undergone surgery with general anesthesia had a higher incidence of delirium, compared to patients who had surgery with spinal anesthesia.
Participating in this study motivated me to look further on how to make spine surgery a better experience. The notion of using spinal anesthesia during spine surgery is not new. Coupled with the evidence of lower rates of delirium made me realize that this could potentially be a better way of doing spine surgery.
Delirium in the elderly is a problem after surgery that has not received as much attention as it should. After we started our Awake Spine Surgery program I noticed anecdotally that many of our elderly patients were more alert and less confused after surgery.
I was beginning to receive less phone calls from our patients after surgery. In addition we found that people were experiencing less pain as well. Overall using spinal anesthesia led to a more comfortable experience after surgery, with a faster recovery. For the majority of our patients who are undergoing a lumbar laminectomy now they are able to comfortably go home the same day (outpatient spine surgery).
Over time we began to enhance and modify our awake spine surgery protocols. We introduced a novel regional anesthetic technique that numbs and anesthetizes the muscles in the back. Introducing this technique made the surgical experience that much better for our patients.
Gradually we started performing our awake protocols with patients who were undergoing spinal fusion.
We began to use a novel medicine that endures for 24-48 hours. As expected our results
have been transformative. Patients are often waking up from spinal fusion surgery
with minimal to no pain. A few hours after spinal fusion surgery we are seeing
that many of our patients are walking, some are even ready to go home.
Whereas the average patient spends 2-3 days in the hospital after a spinal fusion, 40-50% of our patients are going home the same day now.
In addition many of our patients do not need narcotics after a week from surgery.
More than 100 patients have undergone an Awake Spinal Fusion.
I welcome you to explore our website and see if an Awake Spinal Fusion would be right for you.
Please call 914-43-SPINE to see if you are eligible for an awake spinal fusion.
– Alok D Sharan, MD MHCDS