A description of a coblation procedure from the patient’s point of view
I would like to present, in a short way, the topic of minimally invasive spine therapy, or to be more exact, to share my observations about the coblation procedure I underwent myself. Knowledge about the possibilities that modern medicine offer patients suffering from back conditions are unfortunately quite low, even among doctors. The internet gives us a chance to find some information – I have in mind the websites of several big clinics in our country which offer these kinds of procedures. All you need to do is type into your browser phrases such as: minimally invasive, endoscopic spine surgery, IDET, PLDD, YESS.
More or less a year ago I underwent a coblation procedure. The full name of the treatment is on my patient card which I received from the hospital is as follows: decompression with coblation method of spinal canal nerve structures on the levels L4/L5 and L5/S1 on the right side. Coblation is one of the minimally invasive methods of spine condition treatment. The other methods include: intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET), percutaneous laser disc decompression (PLDD), and selective endoscopic discectomy (YESS). Do not confuse these procedures with spine surgery. These procedures interfere with your organism to a much lesser degree than normal surgery, so therefore the complication risk is much lower. Below you can find a short description of my procedure, and some of my impressions, which, I hope, will help you to understand this subject better.
After reviewing the pictures from my MRI and X-ray, the doctor had to qualify me for the coblation procedure. The medical description is quite complicated but as far as I understand the objective of the procedure is to warm up my spine disc to 40 degrees, which will result in a decrease in disc volume (disc decompression), simultaneously decreasing the pressure of the disc on the nerves, and reducing pain. In practice the surgeon sticks a thin electrode into your side, slowly moving it further until it reaches the disc. You can see everything on the screen (of course you are under local anaesthesia) and it is amazing when you realize that it is happening right in front of your eyes! The whole procedure only lasts several minutes. You should not fear the pain, even though you can feel it for a few seconds. Considering that many of us suffer from back pain for years, a few moments is nothing! You can leave the hospital the next day, but you need to remain at home on sick leave for the next 2-3 weeks. Restrictions on my patient card included, among other things, not overstraining yourself, and not using the sauna (strangely that was the point I remember!) After just a couple of months you can go back to your usual physical activities.
Did the procedure help me? To some extent, certainly. The pain decreased, at least in the area of the procedure. Unfortunately, it is impossible to remove the pain entirely. As my rehabilitant once said “there is no miracle for that”.
I think that minimally invasive spine surgery has a lot of advantages. Above all, statistics show that following this type of procedure painful afflictions are decreasing significantly in the majority of cases. Personally I have heard the opinions of a few people who decided to undergo the procedure and are extremely satisfied with the results. As opposed to classical surgery, there is an incomparably lower risk of possible complications. The disadvantage of the procedure is the cost. These procedures are usually performed in private clinics. In my case I needed level 2 coblation, which cost $1700). And of course the procedure is a kind of interference in your body – significantly lower compared to classical surgery, but still with the risk of negative health implications. I decided on the procedure because at that time I needed to take some steps to improve my health. Nevertheless, it is always a personal choice, especially regarding life comfort.
PS: The above text is not a medical opinion, but the opinion of a patient.