New less-invasive spine surgery ‘a quantum leap’

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There’s a lot less cutting going on when Dr. H. Dennis Mollman is in charge.

But the Springfield neurosurgeon says his patients are receiving the same benefits from his less-invasive back surgery, along with less risk, quicker recoveries and fewer complications afterward — thanks to a combination of new technology and teamwork in the operating room at St. John’s Hospital.

“It’s a quantum leap from where we were 10 years ago,” Mollman says of the minimally invasive spine surgery he brought to Springfield in August. “It’s a totally different ball game.”

Through the marriage of two technologies — infrared, three-dimensional computer imaging and X-ray “stealth” guidance — Mollman can “see” what he is doing inside the body without exposing his patient to constant radiation.

He can remove and repair malformed or damaged vertebrae through incisions only two or three inches long instead of the foot-long incisions common in traditional “open” operations.

By not needing to cut and spread long sections of muscle, tendons and ligaments to safely see the bony sections that need repairing, Mollman says he can reduce patients’ blood loss during surgery and shorten their recovery time. And by shortening the operation, the technology makes the surgery available to more patients who are elderly and less able to withstand a long procedure.

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