Awake Spinal Fusion - Dr. Alok Sharan, Edison, NJ
Awake Spinal Fusion is a minimally invasive procedure that doesn’t require general anesthesia. Instead of a lengthy hospital stay, you’re up and about in just a few hours.
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What is Awake Spine Surgery?
It’s the next advancement in less invasive spine surgery
Awake Spine Surgery is a technique that uses the least invasive methods to perform spine surgery. The technique consists of a combination of local and regional anesthesia along with a small incision, avoiding general anesthesia. This combination allows patients to heal faster and mobilize quickly after spine surgery. Patients from all over the country are seeking us out for an outpatient spine surgery that requires minimal opioids.
I became interested in awake spine surgery in 2014 during my involvement 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 those patients whom had surgery with spinal anesthesia.
Participating in this study motivated me to look further on how we could make spine surgery a better experience.
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. We also found that our patients were experiencing less pain after surgery. Overall using spinal anesthesia led to a more comfortable experience after surgery, with a faster recovery. The majority of our patients who are undergoing a lumbar laminectomy now are able to comfortably go home the same day (outpatient spine surgery).
Soon after I was invited to speak on our experience nationally. After hearing about the benefits of awake spine surgery, surgeons began to adopt our awake spine surgery protocols.
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, the majority of our patients go home the same day.
In addition, many of our patients take minimal narcotics after surgery.
- It has been very rewarding to see patients recover quickly, require less pain medicine after surgery, and overall have a better experience with spine 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 732-314-7569 to see if you are eligible for an awake spinal fusion.
– Alok D Sharan, MD MHCDS
Contact us if you’d like more information about Awake Spinal Fusion.