Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
Modern technology has allowed many individuals to undergo minimally invasive spine surgery rather than traditional open surgery for various spinal conditions. Minimally invasive surgeries present fewer risks and lead to a shorter recovery with less tissue damage and postoperative discomfort. With a minimally invasive approach, individuals who need surgery can achieve relief from symptoms with fewer risks of discomfort, blood loss, and complications.
Why Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
- Symptoms are interfering with the quality of your daily life
- Symptoms have become more obvious or are worsening over time
- You are experiencing neurological symptoms from your spinal problems
- Nonsurgical treatments have so far been ineffective
- You are concerned about the risks, pain, and length of recovery after traditional open spine surgery
Candidates for minimally invasive spine surgery may have conditions such as:
- Herniated disc
- Degenerative disc disease
- Lumbar stenosis
- Cervical stenosis
- Spondylolisthesis (slipped disc)
- Spinal deformities (such as scoliosis) or instability
- Injured or fractured vertebra
- Spinal tumor or infection
Minimally invasive spine surgery can be performed in place of various open spinal surgeries. Most commonly, it is used for:
- Spinal fusion: surgical treatment for problems with the spine in which two or more vertebrae are fused together
- Lumbar discectomy: surgical treatment for a herniated or degenerative disc involving the removal of the damaged disc
- Laminectomy: surgical treatment for stenosis involving the removal of lamina (a portion of one or more facet joints may also be removed) to decompress the spinal cord and nerve roots
- SI joint stabilization: surgical treatment for a hypermobile or hypomobile SI joint involving the insertion of implants and a bone graft to stabilize the joint
The details of your procedure will vary depending on the specific procedure you undergo. In general, minimally invasive spine surgeries are conducted in the following way:
- The surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia.
- The surgeon makes small incisions in the treatment area.
- A tubular retractor is inserted to allow for direct visualization of the operative area.
- Through the tubular retractor, the surgeon can access the spine with minimal damage to the surrounding soft tissues.
- Small tools are inserted through the tubular retractor to the treatment area of the spine.
- With X-ray and live scans providing guidance, the surgeon performs the necessary repairs to the spinal tissues.
- The tools and tubular retractor are removed.
- The incisions are closed with sutures under the skin, and a bandage is placed.
- Recovery in the hospital will be carefully monitored before you are discharged home.
Minimally invasive spine surgery offers several advantages over traditional open spine surgery, including:
- Shorter hospital stay and recovery
- Reduced postoperative pain
- Less damage to the soft tissues and muscles
- Lower to minimal blood loss
- Less scarring
- Faster ambulation after surgery
Frequently Asked Questions
Some candidates will not be able to undergo minimally invasive surgery. Candidates with previous prior surgeries, some deformities, or high grade spondylolisthesis may not qualify. If you do not qualify for minimally invasive spine surgery, your surgeon will help you determine what the best course of treatment will be to help you experience relief from your symptoms.
All relevant risks and potential benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery will be discussed with you in clinic before your procedure.
Minimally invasive spine surgery recovery varies depending on the procedure you undergo. Patients may be discharged the same day or one to two days after the surgery. Most patients will feel able to get up and move around the night after their surgery, although they may need a brace, crutches, or walker. In many cases, patients notice immediate improvement in pain levels following surgery. Any postoperative pain is usually short-term and can be alleviated with pain medications. Modified activities will be necessary for several days and up to several weeks, with some patients needing a brace and/or walking aid. Physical therapy is often recommended to help with healing and speed recovery. In most cases, patients can resume most normal daily activities within two months after minimally invasive spine surgery.