Let’s Move Quad Cities: Outpatient back surgery lessens pain, recovery time

BETTENDORF, Iowa -- For years, back surgery has been associated with pain and long recoveries. But thanks to new techniques, more patients are able to return home the same day they go under the knife.

"Certainly spine surgery can be a very large, very complex endeavor, but it doesn't always have to be," said Dr. Michael Berry, a spine surgeon with ORA Orthopedics.

Dr. Berry says the process has gotten much easier over the past decade. In fact, more and more frequently, back surgery is an outpatient procedure.

"There's been a huge trend away from large, open spine surgeries where we make a lot of big incisions in the middle of the back, moving and destroying a lot of the muscles and the ligaments that don't need to be disrupted," said Dr. Berry.

Dr. Berry said he typically performs minimally-invasive, outpatient surgeries several times a week at Crow Valley Surgery Center in Bettendorf. It's now the norm for treating disc herniation in the lower back and other conditions where there is pressure on the nerve at one level.

"Most of the time, patients who have these operations are not sick. These operations are to help people have less pain, so that they can get back to do the things that they want to do on a daily basis," said Dr. Berry.

Best of all, this trend means less time in the hospital and less time away from everyday life.

"We don't need to keep people in the hospital with blood tests and monitoring. It's just not necessary," said Dr. Berry. "That's what benefits people the most -- less time in the hospital, less cost, less chance of complications like infection, and less pain."

Dr. Berry says a disc herniation surgery typically takes about 45 minutes, and patients can often go home the same day.

People who are in good overall health are better candidates for the procedure.