Laser Spine Institute

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cogito
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Date Joined Oct 2010
Total Posts : 932
   Posted 4/17/2012 7:18 PM (GMT -6)   
Are any of you familiar with them?
They have locations around the country.

My GP recommended that I contact them after telling him I was thinking about RF ablation.

I spoke with a (sales) representative yesterday and set up a free consultation. But after reading more about them online, decided to cancel.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-04/laser-spine-surgery-more-profitable-than-google-sees-surge-in-complaints.html
http://www.everydayhealth.com/forum/bones-joints-muscles/back-pain/what-can-you-tell-me-about-laser-spine-surgery.html

Overall, I get the sense that they are a business first and foremost. Thus, I can imagine the free consult to be more of a sales pitch and rather than the doctor looking at my MRI's objectively, will instead be looking to make the sale.
C4-T4 Scoliosis (disk degeneration, stenosis, narrowed neuroforamen, bone spurs), RT hip and SI joint damage from car accident. Also, pectus excavatum, supraventricular tacycardia and mitral valve prolapse syndrome.
Current meds: Ultram ER 300mg & 2-3x 10mg Hydrocodone daily. Oxycodone 10mg for BT. .25-.5mg xanax as needed for sleep, Verapamil 240mg SR (for tachycardia). [/gray

Snowbunny21
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Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 3557
   Posted 4/17/2012 7:26 PM (GMT -6)   
Yes...they are a business....just like most of our Drs...LOL...

However....I've heard really good things about the places for the people who don't need more of a major surgery....Shoot....anything that can help solve spine issues and lessen pain with less invasive surgery is great....

The key if someone is going to use them is researching them just like we would with any one of our surgeons or Drs....making sure that you speak with actual patients..and get 2nd opinions....

Technology is actually a good thing with regards to medicine....but it's not about a magical cure....it's just about whether someone has a situation that can be helped by these types of techniques...
SB and "the pup who snores loudly" 
 
ACDF C5-C7, (no hardware), with autograft bone Nov. 2001
(reabsorption of bone 2 years later...still lost in body..expect to burp it out at anytime..haha")) 
ACDF with hardware, allograft bone Nov. 2005 
Anterior and Posterior CDF, allograft bone with BMP, removal of old hardware, use of titanium plates, rods, screws, & kitchen sink (lol) Oct 2006
 
 

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16799
   Posted 4/18/2012 12:48 PM (GMT -6)   
Cogito, I too was really interested in this place until my sister checked them out for me in Tampa. My sister lives in Tampa and was in the medical field and had lots of contacts there. I called her and asked her to check this place out for me, was really thinking this place may be my saving grace. She had some info already at hand that was not very good, but at my urging I asked her to make some calls and speak to some of the specialists in Tampa that she knows and she did. It was pretty much what I had thought, too good to be true.

They do accept some insurance companies but they are not in network with any company and they want lots of money up front beyond what insurance pays and can do this legally. There has been a lot of litigation against them in the short amount of time they have been in business, more than I am comfortable with. Pretty much anything they do requires repeated visits and each time it is billed as a surgical procedure racking up more money out of pocket. Much of what they do a good PM dr can do. From what I have learned it sounds more like a money making scheme. It is very easy for places like this to come in and remain in business, they have people smart enough to keep them open legally, they have loopholes.

One thing I try to remind myself is many times patients will become desperate enough to try anything if they think they may have a remote chance of getting better. I was there, this is why I had my sister check them out. If things were as good and simple as they make it sound, then every medical facility would be doing the same things they are doing to attract patients. It would not be limited to just their clinics/hospitals they have opened up around the country, think about it.

I am not trying to sway you one way or the other, just do your homework and remember it is not as simple as it sounds.....Susie
Moderator, Chronic Pain Forum & Psoriasis Forum

Chartreux
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9664
   Posted 4/18/2012 2:02 PM (GMT -6)   
I agree with Straydog on this, there is also a place in California just like this and a big
big warning flag is that they want cash, will not bill insurance...A good doctor will bill insurance and
not ask for cash upfront except for co-pay...ask your current PM doctor about this RF Procedure
you want done, there's a good chance he/she will know about it and give it a try for you...
Many well wishes, but do be leary of places like this...maybe call the local BBB in Florida to
check out the complaints...
**********************************************
* So many dx's I could write a book* "It would be nice if we could use the edit button in real life"...
********>^..^<********>^..^<*******

Snowbunny21
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 3557
   Posted 4/18/2012 2:57 PM (GMT -6)   
I wonder if I am thinking of a different place than you all are speaking of...I have a few friends through church who have had laser surgery for their spine issues and had great experiences....So maybe I am thinking of just the technology but not the actual institutes....

I do agree that no matter where we go...researching the place and it's Drs. is key....
SB and "the pup who snores loudly" 
 
ACDF C5-C7, (no hardware), with autograft bone Nov. 2001
(reabsorption of bone 2 years later...still lost in body..expect to burp it out at anytime..haha")) 
ACDF with hardware, allograft bone Nov. 2005 
Anterior and Posterior CDF, allograft bone with BMP, removal of old hardware, use of titanium plates, rods, screws, & kitchen sink (lol) Oct 2006
 
 

cogito
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2010
Total Posts : 932
   Posted 4/18/2012 4:41 PM (GMT -6)   
I share the same suspicions. The Bloomberg article in particular raised some red flags. I contacted my GP today, who recommended LSI, and told him I was wary and wanted a referral for a more traditional approach. My physical therapist, who I think is excellent, recommended an interventional PM and I asked to be referred to her.
C4-T4 Scoliosis (disk degeneration, stenosis, narrowed neuroforamen, bone spurs), RT hip and SI joint damage from car accident. Also, pectus excavatum, supraventricular tacycardia and mitral valve prolapse syndrome.
Current meds: Ultram ER 300mg & 2-3x 10mg Hydrocodone daily. Oxycodone 10mg for BT. .25-.5mg xanax as needed for sleep, Verapamil 240mg SR (for tachycardia). [/gray

Jim1969
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 2042
   Posted 4/19/2012 1:13 AM (GMT -6)   
I looked into LSI myself a couple of years ago and what I found scared me.

I read hundreds of reviews from people who had (allegedly) went there and very few of the comments were positive.

More than once I read things like doctor's breaths smelling like alcohol after lunch, botched procedures, people having to go to the ER within 24 hours due to major pain or infections, etc.

As a side note, the technology and types of treatments LSI promotes is "quickly" making its way into "mainstream" medicine. More and more hospitals are now equipped to do these procedures with doctors that are well experienced in all forms of back surgery.
2 confirmed herniated lumbar discs. Spinal Arthritis. Spinal Stenosis, diabetic peripheral nueropathy.
Moderator Depression Forum.

mrsm123
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 1235
   Posted 4/19/2012 2:21 PM (GMT -6)   
I also looked into them , several years ago, before my first surgery. After doing some months of research on them, what I found was frightening. From keeping MRI's, the actual films, not just the reports of patients who had sent them for the "free consult", and spent months trying unsuccessfully to get them back, and a few patients were more than a year out trying to get those films returned, to the high pressure phone calls from LSI trying to get patients to sign up and schedule their procedures, despite the patient deciding not to use them afterall...those that did have surgery, who had more than one issue were not told at the beginning that they would need to have more than one surgery or procedure done, since they only address one problem at a time...and each successive surgery/procedure would result in a slightly, really slightly "discounted" price if they booked right away after the first procedure was done..patients were strongly encouraged to take out loans, or borrow money for the surgery, and weren't told that they don't help with the reimbursement from insurance and many insurances won't offer reimbursement because their procedures are considered experimental and not proven to be beneficial over the long term..Many patients were told that they would be able to get reimbursed by their insurance despite LSI knowing full well that the insurance companies would not, which is why they don't participate with most insurances.
I don't doubt that they are successful with some of the more simple issues , a straight out herniation, or a straight , uncomplicated decompression, but for those of us with major spine issues, LSI and those like it are not the best choice, at least from my research..

Sandi

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16799
   Posted 4/19/2012 4:48 PM (GMT -6)   
I feel like if the success rate was as high as they claim for their miracle surgeries then we all know we would be seeing more of these surgeries being done across the country. It just all sounds too good to be true, when that happens it usually is just that, too good to be true.

A couple of years ago we did have a lady that posted here at the forum about her husbands experience with them and it was not very pretty. The man needed more surgery/procedures, all had to be paid out of pocket. Bottom line her husband was not fixed and they were close to losing everything because of the amount of debt incurred there at the facility. A lot of what Sandi wrote above happened to them. Not quite the pretty picture they paint for the patients....Susie
Moderator, Chronic Pain Forum & Psoriasis Forum

cogito
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2010
Total Posts : 932
   Posted 4/19/2012 5:05 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the input. I think LSI is off the table for me.

Talking with their reps on the phone raised some red flags and what I've seen online has persuaded me to drop the idea.

Next time I see my GP, I'll tell him about what I have read so he is less likely to recommend them in the future. My GP is a good guy and by far the most patient-oriented GP I've had since I was a kid.
C4-T4 Scoliosis (disk degeneration, stenosis, narrowed neuroforamen, bone spurs), RT hip and SI joint damage from car accident. Also, pectus excavatum, supraventricular tacycardia and mitral valve prolapse syndrome.
Current meds: Ultram ER 300mg & 2-3x 10mg Hydrocodone daily. Oxycodone 10mg for BT. .25-.5mg xanax as needed for sleep, Verapamil 240mg SR (for tachycardia). [/gray

mrsm123
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 1235
   Posted 4/19/2012 6:55 PM (GMT -6)   
The other issue that I forgot to mention is their use of steroids and similar types of anesthetic agents in their spine surgeries and procedures. Of course, if you use those types of meds directly near the spinal nerves, it is going to cause the sensation of pain relief to be there, especially post op...but once those meds start to wear off, patients were complaining of increased pain levels, and on going increased pain...only to be told it was only inflammation and it would go away, or they were doing too much, to rest and take it easy...
Only that wasn't the problem, the problem was that the physical problem either wasn't addressed or they didn't completely fix the problem as promised.
The spine is a complex set of nerves, motor and sensory, and it is difficult for the best surgeons to determine what area of the spine or nerve roots is causing a specific problem, which is why MRI's , CT scans, EMG's etc, are all part of the large, complex picture of our spines, but the biggest factor in a surgeon's assessment needs to be what the patients says and complains of...even then , there is still the possibility that surgery won't work to relieve pain. In fact, any good surgeon worth his salt will tell the patient right up front, that surgery to relieve pain is unlikely to be successful...surgery should be done to repair a structural problem in the spine, not to relieve pain. If the patient is lucky enough that their pain is relieved some by the surgery, then they are fortunate...but it is not the reason behind the surgery. LSI promises far too much, and when things don't turn out as they say they will, they tend to be nowhere around. That's one of the reasons they try to get patients to give a "testimonial" before they leave the day of the surgery.
Sandi
Motorcycle accident 1992, Back problems from 92 to 2005. August 2005- early 2006- Chiropractor care
March 2006- consult with surgeon -PLIF/TLIF L4-5, spondylolysthesis, canal and foraminal stenosis, multiple herniations
Post Op Cauda Equina Syndrome
Revision August 2007- salvage op
March 2011- 2nd onset of Cauda Equina Syndrome
Needs surgery to prevent paralysis

Mumzy
New Member


Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 4/29/2012 11:11 AM (GMT -6)   
In December 2008 I went to a company called Microspine and had laser spine surgery for a herniated L4-L5 disc and haven't had any issues so far. They performed a Laser Discectomy and a Laminotomy to correct the problem that was causing serious back and left leg pain. My stay at the clinic was about three hours and total cost was just around $8,000. My reason for choosing laser surgery was motivated purely due to financial reasons. I was a student and had no medical insurance at that time and there was no way I could afford to pay for a conventional back surgery out of pocket.

For anyone seeking to have back surgery (laser or conventional) you really need to maintain realistic expectations. Chances are even with a successful procedure there will always be some minor lingering pain to deal with. Even though I consider my treatment a total success, I still get some minor aches from time to time (take two Excedrin and I'm good to go).

I did consider the Laser Spine Institute but I decided they were too expensive (if memory serves me right they wanted a $30,000 deposit). I know a lot of these institutes don't take insurance but In my case it was a moot point since I didn't have any insurance anyways.

cogito
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2010
Total Posts : 932
   Posted 4/29/2012 12:17 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank you Mumzy,

I did a search and read various posts, both positive and negative. My concern is that too many physicians, and it seems especially those who enter into these sorts of ventures are too focused on profit and so I just can't trust their assessments. They may offer a procedure that can help me, but I'm going to avoid such facilities until my only other option is open back surgery. Also, I need to see proper studies of procedure outcomes, which do not seem to be available.

I've had a hard time finding a competent spine doctor near where I live, but got what might be a good recommendation last week. The one scoli doctor in my area with a good reputation only treats children and teens. But I called his office and asked where he sends his patients once they are adults. The receptionist (who said she has scoli too) referred me to a doctor (who she also sees). As luck would have it, they had a cancellation for Monday morning and so I'll be seeing him tomorrow.
C4-T4 Scoliosis (disk degeneration, stenosis, narrowed neuroforamen, bone spurs), RT hip and SI joint damage from car accident. Also, pectus excavatum, supraventricular tacycardia and mitral valve prolapse syndrome.
Current meds: Ultram ER 300mg & 2-3x 10mg Hydrocodone daily. Oxycodone 10mg for BT. .25-.5mg xanax as needed for sleep, Verapamil 240mg SR (for tachycardia).

Screaming Eagle
Veteran Member


Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 5005
   Posted 4/29/2012 12:21 PM (GMT -6)   

 

       Hello Cogito!

         What I like about your approach is that you are cautious! Good luck on the appointment...I will be interested in how it went for you.

     Take care, and have a good rest of the weekend!

      SE wink


Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

Weekly Quote!

"Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward."
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