“There are dramatically fewer complications with bloodless surgery.” - James St. Louis, D.O., Physician Partners of America
TAMPA, Fla. (PRWEB) August 23, 2018
People reluctant to correct neck and back pain surgically, or Jehovah's Witnesses who don't accept transfusions, are turning to minimally invasive laser spine surgery for treatment. It has an extremely low risk of bleeding and infection compared with open-back surgery. It also offers the same or better outcomes than traditional methods.
“I’ve done more than 8,000 surgeries and have never given a blood transfusion,” says Dr. James St. Louis, director of Physician Partners of America Minimally Invasive Spine Group. “There are dramatically fewer complications with bloodless surgery.”
Bloodless Surgery Advantages
“Bloodless” is a term that refers to reduced blood loss in surgery and recycling the body’s own blood if needed using a special machine. In doing so, it reduces the risks that come with the transfusion of banked blood. The Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery at Johns Hopkins Healthcare says bloodless surgery:
- Lowers risk of hospital infection
- Lowers risk of complications
- Has zero risk of receiving infected blood or the wrong type
- Leads to fewer allergic reactions
- Speeds up recovery
- Saves money
Today, at least 100 U.S. hospitals have set up departments for bloodless medicine.
Advances in medicine have made it easier to reduce blood loss in spine surgeries, as well as many other types of operations.
Together, minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) and laser spine surgery are essentially bloodless procedure. They are almost always performed at an outpatient surgery center, where patients go home the same day. They use small incisions (usually under one inch) and either ultra-high heat (ablation) or lasers to cauterize blood vessels.
The best laser spine surgeons also utilize muscle-sparing techniques to reach the spine. They use a series of tubes to spread apart the muscles surrounding the spine instead of cutting. “It allows me to see the spinal cord better and reduce bleeding and complications,” says Dr. St. Louis. MISS surgeons work through these tubes with tiny instruments and magnification.
Where Did Bloodless Surgery Originate?
Bloodless surgery was pioneered largely by Jehovah’s Witnesses. This Christian religion believes the Bible prohibits ingesting blood. Its believers do not accept blood transfusions, and don’t donate or store their own blood for later use. Others who might consider this type of surgery are those who are concerned about infections from donated blood, and people with weakened immune systems.
Serious, peer-reviewed studies of this practice in the 1980s and 90s showed that patient outcomes were no different – and in some cases better – than those performed with transfusions. As a result, transfusions have decreased by more than 33 percent in the United States since 2008, according to the American Red Cross and research by Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
How Bloodless Surgery Works
Patients can choose to bank their own blood for surgery. For those who don't, there are many ways to preserve their blood supply during a procedure.
A patient’s hemoglobin, or red blood cells, are built up before surgery through supplements. This helps ward off anemia, or low red blood cell count. It also makes the patient strong enough to withstand an operation.
Any blood shed during a procedure is carefully collected, filtered, and recycled back into the body using a “cell saver” machine. The blood can also be also mildly diluted before surgery, so fewer red cells are lost. To further avoid excess bleeding, steps are taken to keep blood pressure and body temperature in check. Special instruments and operating tables can also be used.
What are the Disadvantages of Bloodless Surgery?
Like any operation, bloodless surgery carries some risks. These include possible bad reactions to medicines taken before or after surgery, and a higher risk of complications if a patient smokes.
Bloodless Surgery Cost Savings
The Joint Commission on Accreditation adds that preserving blood during elective surgery leads to healthcare savings, with a 25 percent reduction in the length of a hospital stay. The American Journal of Surgery estimates the cost of preparing, storing and using donated blood costs about $1,000 per patient.
While hospitals don’t take an official position on transfusions, some present it as a choice for patients facing major procedures.
“During intake, the nurse asks the patient if they would refuse a transfusion,” said Robin Atkins, director of the Bloodless Medicine Department at Tampa General Hospital. The hospital on Florida’s west coast started its bloodless medicine department in 2001. “This creates a consciousness about transfusion and the alternatives.”
While some operations come with a greater risk of bleeding, doctors who agree to perform bloodless surgery abide by a patient’s wishes. “If the patient is an adult with the capacity to make healthcare decisions, doctors will respect their wishes.”
If you’re serious about exploring bloodless surgery, a doctor skilled in this technique will carefully help you weigh the advantages and risks in advance. And if you are considering a procedure to treat chronic back pain, minimally invasive laser spine surgery is a strong option.
About Physician Partners of America
Headquartered in Tampa, Fla., Physician Partners of America (PPOA) is a fast-growing national healthcare company committed to fighting the opioid epidemic through interventional pain management and cutting-edge treatment modalities. It manages operations of a wide range of medical practices and ancillary services. These include pain management, minimally invasive laser spine surgery, orthopedics, primary care, psychological services, personal injury and Workers’ Compensation. It also operates AAAHC-accredited ambulatory surgery centers and procedure suites. Its ancillary division includes imaging,intraoperative neuromonitoring, medical supply distribution, pharmacies, a COLA-accredited high-complexity quantitative toxicology lab, and a COLA-accredited pharmacogenomics lab. For more information, please visit physicianpartnersofamerica.com.