Muscle Sparing and Minimally Invasive Fusions
Minimally invasive surgeries can provide excellent results and relief from symptoms in place of traditional open surgery. Because small incisions are used, there is less harm to the soft tissues and muscles. There is also significantly less blood loss. Many patients who need spinal fusion can undergo a minimally invasive fusion surgery instead which can lead to less postoperative pain and a faster recovery.
Why Minimally Invasive Fusion Surgery?
- Symptoms are affecting your daily life
- Your symptoms are worsening over time
- Nonsurgical treatments have proven ineffective
- You need spinal fusion but are concerned about the risks, pain, and length of recovery after traditional open spine surgery
Candidates for minimally invasive spinal fusions may have conditions such as:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated disc
- Lumbar stenosis
- Cervical stenosis
- Spondylolisthesis (slipped disc)
- Spinal deformities (such as scoliosis) or instability
- Injured or fractured vertebra
- Spinal tumor or infection
- The surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia.
- The surgeon makes small incisions in the treatment area and inserts a tubular retractor into the body.
- The tubular retractor allows direct access to the spine with significantly less damage to the surrounding muscles and soft tissues.
- The surgeon inserts small tools (including a microscope and light) through the tubular retractor to work on the spine.
- The damaged disc or tissue is removed.
- An implant and bone graft are inserted to hold the vertebrae in position so that they will fuse together at that particular segment.
- If necessary, an additional implant of screws, plates, or rods may be inserted in a muscle sparing technique for extra support.
- X-ray and CT scans in real time provide guidance while the surgeon performs the necessary repairs to the spinal tissues.
- The nerves and spinal cord are monitored continuously during the surgery for safety
- The surgical tools are extracted and the tubular retractor is removed.
- The incisions are closed with sutures under the skin and a small dressing is applied.
- Recovery in the hospital will be carefully monitored before you are discharged home.
Minimally invasive fusion surgery offers several advantages over traditional fusion surgery, including:
- Shorter hospital stay and recovery
- Reduced pain
- Tissue and muscle sparing
- Minimal blood loss
- Less scarring
- Minimized risks
Frequently Asked Questions
Some candidates will not be able to undergo minimally invasive spinal fusion. Candidates with some deformities, previous prior surgeries, or high grade spondylolisthesis may not qualify. If this procedure is not for you, your surgeon will help you determine the best treatment for your needs.
The risks of minimally invasive fusions can be significantly lower than the risks of open spine surgery. The risks and the potential benefits of your procedure will be discussed with you in detail beforehand in clinic prior to scheduling.
Depending on your condition and the extent of your surgery, you may be discharged the same day or up to two days after your surgery. Because the procedure is minimally invasive, most patients are able to get up and walk around a few hours after their surgery. You can resume eating your normal diet as soon as you have recovered from the anesthesia. Many patients notice an improvement in pain levels immediately after the surgery. Postoperative pain is normal, but the pain is usually short-term and can be controlled with pain medications. You will be instructed how to modify your activities during recovery. You may also be given a back brace and/or physical therapy. Most patients can resume most normal activities within a few weeks to less than two months.