The Greek physician Hippocrates is known as the Father of Medicine. He lived during the Classical period in Greece from 460 BC to 370 BC. During that time he described a spinal cord injury involving a vertebral fracture causing paralysis of the limb on one side, as well as back pain and sciatica. This is the start of understanding the spine and the consequences of spine injury to bodily function.
Jumping to 1829, AG smith performs the first laminectomy. Antiseptics and anesthesia, both relatively new developments in the field of medicine in the mid 19th century, allowed surgery to be performed more safely and sparked a rapid growth of surgical treatments. In 1931 Christian Schmorl published ‘The Healthy and Sick Spine” a basis for modern understanding of vertebral discs. Imaging techniques that allowed a deeper look into the spinal cord and nerve functions aided the progress of spinal surgery. With the advent of computed tomography scans, or CT scans, in 1972 and MRI machine usage in medicine in 1976, spinal surgery became more precise as we gained an increased understanding of the spinal cord and central nervous system.
The development of minimally invasive techniques allow effective surgeries to be performed with minimal to no incisions which leads to faster recovery time, less risk for patients and little to no scarring. Modern endoscopes, or small tubular surgical devices, allow surgeons to operate through a single small opening while being guided by the image from the endoscopic camera, as well as guidance from an imaging technique such as X-rays.
Laser spine surgery is a technique developed in the 1980’s that allows a herniated disc to be treated without incision by using a needle-thin laser to decompress problematic discs.