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Virginia Spine Institute is a national leader in spinal health care with spinal specialists that who utilize that most advanced techniques to improve the surgical care of our patients.

One of the latest breakthroughs in minimally invasive spine surgery is ultrasonic spine surgery.

Ultrasonic spine surgery can be used for many conditions, butconditions but is most often utilized when it is necessary to remove a small amount of bone to treat a patient's pain.

While traditional spine surgery is safe and effective, the usual instruments used to carve away bone or tissue can be tedious and difficult to maneuver, particularly when working in very close proximity to nerves or the spinal cord.

An ultrasonic device, allows the surgeon to very precisely sculpt away bone or other tissues to relieve pressure on nerves with minimal disruption to the surrounding area.




  • Bone Spurs
    The most common scenario in which a specialist would use this device is when a patient has a 'bone spur' as a result of routine aging or arthritis of the spine. Bone spurs can form on the spine causing pain or nerve problems, and may need to be removed to alleviate these symptoms. This has typically been done using small devices to cut or bite away the bone but now the ultrasonic device gives us another option to more precisely contour away the bone spur.
  • Scoliosis or Flat Back Syndrome
    Another important use of ultrasonic spine surgery is when someone has an abnormal curvature or alignment of the spine such as scoliosis or flat back syndrome. It is common for patients with these conditions to undergo surgery to remove or cut a portion of the bone in order to re-angle or realign the spine.
  • Revision Surgery
    Revision spinal surgery is another promising use for the ultrasonic device as it can allow the surgeon to remove scar tissue, fix previous surgical issues, or treat irritated nerves with increased accuracy and safety.

Ultrasonic spine surgery can also be used to treat:

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Ultrasonic Spine Surgery offers many benefits to patients and surgeons alike. Here are 4 examples of the benefits of ultrasonic spine surgery:

  1. Controlled cutting: the ultrasonic blade provides increased precision and accuracy, allowing surgeons to safely shave away bone in difficult-to-reach parts of the spine.
  2. Reduced tissue damage: the ultrasonic blade is able to quickly cut through bone, while sparing nearby tissue structures because of its high-speed, linear blade or tip
  3. Reduced blood loss: the ultrasonic blade has an irrigation component that keeps the blade cool, ensuring the bone does not get too hot. This helps to clot blood at the bone edge, reducing blood loss throughout the procedure
  4. Better surgical outcome: For certain conditions, ultrasonic spine surgery can be completed faster than traditional spine surgery, resulting in fewer complications, lower infection rates, and can get patients back to an active life faster


Ultrasonic spine surgery uses an oscillating, linear blade {or shaver tip} that moves at a high frequency of approximately 22,500 times per second. That's over 1,000,000 times a minute! This high frequency movement allows the blade to effectively remove hard tissue {i.e. bone spurs} without disrupting soft tissues nearby {i.e. muscles or nerves}.

How Ultrasonic Spine Surgery Works:

Because bone is more rigid and less elastic, the ultrasonic blade's energy is quickly absorbed by the bone when the tip touches it. This means the blade does not bend or deform at the point of contact, but easily cuts through the bone. Alternatively, soft tissue is less rigid and does not absorb the energy transferred from the blade. That means the blade is able to safely work around the soft tissues without causing damage or injury


A good analogy to help visualize the procedure is to think of a doctor removing a cast from a patient's arm using a cast saw. The saw is designed to move very quickly so it can safely cut through the hard cast but will stop once it is met with the patient's skin underneath. 

Because the skin is soft, it gently moves out of the way when the cast saw comes near itit, so it does not damage or cut the skin. 

Similarly, the ultrasonic vibrating blade allows the surgeon to safely, and very precisely, contour and sculpt bone away while protecting nearby tissue.




Ultrasonic spine surgery is not appropriate for all patients and conditions. Our Spinal Specialists will review all pertinent medical imaging, perform a full medical evaluation, and discuss patient goals before recommending surgery.

If you are interested in learning more about ultrasonic spine surgery, or to see if you are a candidate for this procedure, schedule a consultation with one of our nationally recognized spinal surgeons today!

Learn if you are a candidate for this treatment.

Click to schedule your initial consultation

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