How is Awake Spine Surgery Performed?
The first step when performing awake spine surgery involves giving the patient local anesthetic at the surgical site. This ensures that no pain is felt during the procedure, and allows the spine surgeon to examine the patient’s neurologic condition during surgery. The type of procedure will determine the length of the surgery, but on average awake spine surgery takes approximately 2 hours.
During traditional surgery, surgeons have used physiological measures such as using the patient’s heartbeat and blood pressure to determine whether the patient was experiencing pain during surgery. Now the surgeon can ask the patient and get an immediate answer. This is particularly helpful with spine surgery when the awake patient can help the surgeon locate the pain generator.
During the awake surgery, the patient is fully alert. Dr. Braxton is able to communicate with the patient throughout the operation. This makes the procedure safer, and encourages safer handling of neurologic structures. The patient is placed in a comfortable position and is able to watch a video on an iPad.
It is important to note that not all patients are a candidate for this procedure. The right candidate must have the right temperament to be awake during surgery.