Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Many people ask what exactly is minimally invasive spine surgery?  In just a few words, it is minimal cutting to avoid significant damages to the muscles surrounding the spine.  The benefit to this is that it presents less risk for blood loss, a quicker recovery, less post-operative pain, less soft tissue damage and less chance for surgical complications.  Most doctors prefer doing minimally invasive spine surgery if their patients are a candidate for it.

In recent years, there has been advancement in MRI imaging that allows surgeons to see spinal nerves, small disc fragments and bone spurs.  It gives them the ability to spread and push muscle out of the way as opposed to cutting through it and allows them to get to the exact place they need to.  

There are several different techniques surgeons utilize when doing a minimally invasive spine surgery.  Some of them have become so precise that only a 1” incision is necessary.  Common procedures such as fusions and decompression can be done in this manner, however, not all patients are candidates for this.  

Just like all patients are not candidates for minimally invasive surgery, not all surgeons are trained to do the techniques.  It takes special training and skill and the right technology and tools to do these kinds of surgeries. 

If you have been advised to have spinal surgery and minimally invasive techniques have not been discussed, contact us for a second opinion.  We have several facilities that can offer this kind of surgery and are happy to review your records.  

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Private EMG Test

Speed up your search and purchase a list of medical facilities for PRIVATE EMG in Canada/USA HERE

EMG (Electromyography) is a diagnostic test. It is used to assess the condition of muscles and the nerve cells that control them.  It can help diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome, pinched nerve, herniated disc disease, sciatica, muscle dystrophy and Lou Gehrig disease.

If you are experiencing symptoms that may indicate a muscle or nerve disorder, your doctor may refer you for an EMG. This test is usually done along with NCV (Nerve Conduction Velocity) test. NCV detects a problem with the nerve, and an EMG detects whether the muscle is working properly in response to the nerve stimulus. The results of the test can help your doctor better determine presence, location and extent of diseases that damage the nerves and the muscles.

The wait times for EMG differ from province to province in Canada. It will also depend on the severity of the pain you are experiencing. In Nova Scotia, our clients report that it can take up to 2 years, and in Alberta 2-6 months. The test can be arranged privately with minimal waiting.  Please note that there are not any private facilities in Canada that offer this on a private basis.  There are affordable options across the border.  Click here to purchase the list of facilities!


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Private Herniated Disc Surgery

Private Herniated Disc Surgery

A herniated disk is a common cause of back and leg pain. Spine discs normally act as a cushion and shock absorber between our spine bones, or vertebrae. When a disc in our spine is damaged, such as bulged or broken, it is pressing on nerve roots and causing pain.

First line of treatment is a non-surgical one, such as changing your activities, physiotherapy, steroid injections, anti-inflammatories or pain medication. If none are helping and pain has persisted for over 6 weeks, surgery can be considered to take pressure off the nerve roots. The surgery removes the bulging disc material that is pressing on the nerves. Necessary diagnostic tests must be done prior to considering surgery, such as MRI, CT scan or Myelogram (use of dye for X-ray).

Most common type of surgery performed for herniated disc is called discectomy. There are several approaches to discectomy. A traditional and most common technique is open discectomy, with or without the use of an operating microscope.

If a microscope is used the surgery is considered minimally invasive. The use of it illuminates and magnifies the surgical field and allows the surgeon make very small incisions. It is also called microdiscectomy. This type of surgery offers immediate relief from sciatica due to a lumbar herniated disc.

Endoscopic microdiscectomy is a technique where a small incision is made and an endoscope is used to visualize the interior structures of the spine and the bulging part of the disc. The smaller space needed for endoscope allows for smaller incision. This type of surgery is not suited for everyone suffering form back pain.

Percutaneous discectomy is another minimally invasive surgery to treat a herniated disc. A special tool is used to remove the herniation by heating it or scraping it. This type of surgery is not appropriate for everyone either. It does provide a faster recovery due to a very small incision.

Laser discectomy is yet another minimally invasive approach. In this type of surgery, the bulging disc material is not removed but burned by the laser.

When considering spinal discectomy, ensure you talk to your surgeon about your options. It is also very important to have a surgeon who is highly skilled in the type of surgery you are seeking. If you need help sorting through different private spinal centers and their doctors and specializations, Health Vantis is here to help. Give us a call and we will ensure you have the best information possible to make the right decision about your private herniated disc surgery.

Private Arthroscopic Discectomy

Private Arthroscopic Discectomy

Back pain can disrupt your life and limit your mobility and therefore ability to walk, run, play sports and enjoy life. Your doctor may order an MRI and/or X-ray to see what is happening in your spine. If you have a herniated disc and no other issues, your doctor may recommend arthroscopic discectomy.

Arthroscopic discectomy is a procedure performed on the lumbar spine (and the cervical spine to some extent). Micro-tools are used to perform it. The surgeon will use a range of such micro-tools, including mini-callipers, lasers and micro-vacuums in conjunction with a laparoscopic microscope to view the surgery site up close.

The procedure is minimally invasive and the recovery time is minimal. People report immediate pain relief and the surgery is generally performed under local anaesthesia, as an outpatient procedure. The procedure requires that a qualified surgeon who has specific training performs the operation.

In many Canadian provinces, the wait time for back surgery is quite long. Waiting in pain can make it hard on you. Many Canadians prefer to check a private arthroscopic discectomy option. If you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc Health Vantis can help you find, vet and arrange your private arthroscopic discectomy.

Call us to find out all the details and see if you are a good candidate for this type of surgery.

Phrenic Nerve Reconstruction

Health Vantis recently visited a facility that addresses one of the less common yet very difficult to treat conditions. It is phrenic nerve damage. We connected with the administration of the medical facility and are now proud to say that we are happy to help those that may need this type of surgery. There are only a few surgeons in the world that are qualified and experienced to perform phrenic nerve reconstruction.

What is phrenic nerve?

Phrenic nerve is not a household name and many people probably have not heard of it. Yet it keeps us alive as we breathe. The nerve controls the diaphragm muscle, which controls the breathing process. It is in charge of voluntary and involuntary breathing, such as during sleep, by transmitting signals from the brain and spinal cord to the esophagus. We breathe without making much effort and it is all due to the phrenic nerve. Its primary function is to carry out our breathing without us having to think about it or tell our body to do so.

Phrenic nerve is a twin nerve. It begins in the brain and continues down to the first few vertebrae of the spine. Then it splits. The two nerves go down through each side of the body. The right side comes in contact with the windpipe and heart while passing the lungs. The left side also comes in close contact with the heart, with both sides eventually ending up in the diaphragm. Because of its location and proximity to both the lungs and the heart, the nerve can be impacted if there are specific conditions in either of these organs. If either of the nerves is damaged and signals between the brain and diaphragm are interrupted, normal breathing may be prevented.

What are the symptoms of phrenic nerve damage?

People with phrenic nerve injury experience difficulty breathing.  Depending on the severity of the injury, they may become winded after climbing a flight of stairs or even tying their shoes. For some, difficulty in breathing while lying down can interfere with sleep, causing insomnia. Symptoms can include lethargy, headaches and blue-tinged lips or fingers.

The most severe impact of phrenic nerve damage is diaphragm paralysis, which prevents the patient from being able to regulate breathing on his or her own.

Why does it get damaged?

The most common causes of phrenic nerve injury are surgical complications and trauma. Phrenic nerve damage may occur after a major operation such as neck dissection for head and neck cancer, lung surgery, coronary bypass surgery, heart valve or other vascular surgery and thymus gland surgery. After the surgery, sometimes scar tissue forms in the neck, which compresses the nerve. Injuries can also result from epidural injections or other types of nerve blocks, as well as chiropractic manipulation of the neck, which can disturb the roots of the spinal nerves.

What can be done?

There has been little hope for individuals suffering from this condition until recently. Treatment options for phrenic nerve injury have been limited to either nonsurgical therapy or diaphragm plication, neither of which attempts to restore normal function to the paralyzed diaphragm.

Advances in nerve decompression and transplant allow reconstructive plastic surgeons to reverse diaphragm paralysis.  The techniques used are derived from the procedures commonly used to treat arm or leg paralysis, which have allowed surgeons to restore function to previously paralyzed muscle groups. The doctor either corrects or transplants the nerve in order to restore function.

The rarity of the condition makes it difficult for patients with a phrenic nerve injury to find treatment.  The condition is often misdiagnosed or viewed as insufficiently severe enough to require corrective surgery.

Patients who have undergone phrenic nerve surgery report improvements in their physical and respiratory function, and a reversal of the sleeping difficulties related to diaphragm paralysis.

If you or a loved one suffers from phrenic nerve injury, it is likely you have been told by your physician that you must learn to live with this deficit. Well, that is simply not true. Contact Health Vantis to get connected to the world-class board certified surgeon who will help you or your loved one.