February Physician Spotlight: Dr. Marco Rodriguez, MD

Image of Dr. Marco Rodriguez, a physician who operates at Omega Hospital

This month, Omega Hospital is recognizing Dr. Marco Rodriguez, a leading orthopedic spine surgeon in Louisiana who is nationally and internationally recognized. We recently sat down with Dr. Rodriguez to learn about his incredible expertise and unique approach.

You have a unique point of view and approach as a spine surgeon. Can you talk more about what distinguishes you from other specialists in your field?

            Certainly. First and foremost, I’m committed to minimizing the invasiveness of surgery so my patients can experience better and faster recovery. I am the founder and president of the International Spine Institute (ISI), which is the only practice in South Louisiana that focuses on least invasive spine surgery. This makes ISI unique, along with our focus on providing concierge spine surgery and medical tourism and offering a “second opinion” service for patients to consult with me.

What procedures do you most commonly perform?

My practice focuses on least invasive spine surgery, a new category of procedures that bridges the gap between pain management and minimally invasive spine surgery. This category of procedures includes stem cell therapy for low back pain caused by degenerative disc disease and discogenic back pain, and endoscopic spine surgery. The most common least invasive procedure I perform is endoscopic rhizotomy. It’s a remarkable procedure that few physicians perform. In fact, we haven’t been able to find another physician who performs it in the greater New Orleans area.

Can you talk more about some of these procedures and provide more detail?

Certainly. Endoscopic discectomy is the least invasive approach to decompress the herniated disc and spinal stenosis that causes sciatica, low back or leg pain. The surgery provides advantages over minimally invasive spine surgery. For example, there’s no general anesthesia risk since it uses conscious sedation, and it only requires a 0.5-inch incision. There’s also less scaring and post-operative pain, and patients return to work sooner.

Endoscopic rhizotomy is a procedure that is similar to a percutaneous radiofrequency ablation (RFA). Unlike RFA, it visualizes the painful facet nerves with an HD scope/camera and TV and completely severs and ablates the painful nerves. It provides superior clinical results than RFA. In fact, 90 percent of the patients undergoing the procedure experience pain relief lasting upwards of 5-7 years compared to 18 months on average for RFA. I’ve been able to use endoscopic rhizotomy to provide significant pain relief without major spine surgery for patients suffering from low back pain. Endoscopic spine surgery has reduced the total number of spine fusions in my practice.

Cervical endoscopic discectomy is a surgery for select patients that can alleviate the need for a spinal neck fusion. The advantages are numerous—faster recovery, quicker return to work, and potentially less recurrent need for spine surgery. I believe we are the only practice that endoscopically decompresses a cervical herniated disc from the posterior neck through a 0.5-inch incision.

Stem cell therapy can be a great alternative to spine surgery for select patients suffering from low back pain caused by degenerative disc disease, bulging disc, and herniated disc. I use bone marrow aspirate concentration extracted from the patient’s hip through an approved FDA device. Stem cell injections may provide patients significant back pain relief, rejuvenate a degenerative disc, and restore an active lifestyle.

Where do you practice? Are you accepting new patients?

I practice at ISI, which I mentioned, as well as LA Health Solutions. Like ISI, LA Health serves the greater New Orleans and Baton Rouge regions. I’m accepting new patients at both practices.

You currently perform procedures at Omega Hospital. Can you talk about why you value practicing here?

Several factors. Your commitment to personalized patient care and low infection rate. Your size. You’re a small hospital, which means you can devote more resources and attention to patients. Your operating staff, which is always attentive and informed. And your overall hospital setting, which my patients find comfortable.

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