Orthopaedic Spine Surgery

At OCR, we specialize in orthopaedic spine surgery. Our spine surgeons, Robert Benz, MD,  William Biggs, MD, and Matthew Gerlach, MD have specialized (fellowship) training, board certification, years of experience, and expertise in helping people with back and neck disorders and injuries.

We strive to offer the latest technology and techniques to help patients while balancing this with the need to ensure that the latest techniques are safe and effective.

Surgery usually involves removing bone spurs, disc herniations, and other tissues that are compressing your spinal nerves or realigning the spine. The goal is to relieve your symptoms.

Orthopaedic spine surgery is usually easier for patients who are in good physical condition before the operation; your doctor may prescribe a pre-conditioning program as you prepare for surgery.

Other preparations may include:

  • reducing the medications you take (but talk with your doctor before altering any of your medications)
  • donating your own blood for your operation
  • losing weight if needed
  • if you smoke, stopping or reducing the amount of smoking
  • checking your bone density and vitamin D levels

Psychological health is also important; counselors or family members may be of help to you before and after surgery.


Lumbar Disc Replacement

We offer Lumbar Artificial Disc Replacement for people with disabling low-back pain. Patients who have been through an extensive rehabilitation program and still have disabling low-back pain may qualify for this procedure.

Whereas most spinal surgery is performed on the back of the spine, the Artificial Lumbar Disc is inserted on the front side.

This technology offers a strong option for many patients compared to a lumbar fusion operation. Here are other potential advantages of Artificial Disc Replacement compared to fusion surgery:

  • shorter hospitalization and recovery time
  • less time to resume full activity
  • restoration of spinal motion
  • maintenance of the health of other discs in the spine, and preventing their degeneration

We currently offer the FDA-approved artificial disc Synthes ProDisc-L.


Cervical Disc Replacement

Our surgeons are performing artificial cervical disc replacement surgery for selected patients.

This operation may be a good alternative to cervical fusion for the treatment of disc herniation in the neck.

Disc replacement surgery generally results in the following benefits for patients compared to fusion surgery:

  • faster healing time
  • quicker return to activity
  • lower risk of degeneration of adjacent discs

We are currently using three FDA-approved cervical disc implants: Synthes ProDisc-C, the Medtronic Bryan disc, and the Medtronic Prestige disc.


Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery

Our surgeons have extensive training and experience in performing minimally invasive spinal surgery for patients.

Minimally invasive procedures can result in less damage to tissues and a quicker recovery with less pain. These options are for select patients; ask your surgeon if they are appropriate for you.

There are numerous minimally invasive surgical options, including:

XLIF (eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion)
This is a surgical approach for lumbar fusion. In this technique, the surgeon makes a small incision on the patient’s side to avoid disrupting the stabilizing muscles along the back of the spine.

TLIF (Transforminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion)
With this approach, the surgeon makes two small incisions to expose the spine, without affecting the muscle — which typically occurs with the traditional, open fusion approach.

Coflex Interlaminar Implant
For select patients who have spinal stenosis and mild spondylolisthesis, this may be an option that is less invasive than a fusion.

Minimally invasive discectomy and laminectomy
In this approach, a small tubular retractor is inserted between the muscle fibers along the spine, to gain access to the lesions that are compressing the spinal nerves. This technique can also be combined with specialized surgical tools to open up the holes (foramen) along the spine.



To schedule an appointment and evaluation with one of our specialists, Dr. Robert Benz, Dr. Bill Biggs, or Dr. Matthew Gerlach, please call our schedulers at 970-419-7050, or call 1-800-722-7441 and ask for scheduling.


Learn More

You can learn more about orthopaedic spine surgery with the help of the medical animations of the spine; go to the Conditions and Surgeries page.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons also has helpful information on spine problems and treatments.

Learn more about the anatomy of the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine at Spine-health.com