Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery at LA Orthopedic Group can contribute to faster recovery.
It wasn’t that long ago that spine surgery only meant large incisions and months of rehab. Now, many procedures can now be safely done with minimally invasive techniques. The goal with most types of minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) is to either stabilize the spine or relieve pressure on nearby nerve roots. Patients often benefit with:
- Less pain
- Fewer complications
- Faster healing time and recovery period
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Types of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
The earliest forms of MISS in the 1990s involved either decompression or spinal fusion surgery. With decompression surgery, all or part of a herniated disc or bony growths are removed (discetomy) to ease pressure on nerves. Fusion surgery involves the joining or “fusing” or two adjacent parts of the spine to restore stability, with an example of a minimally invasive version being transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion to correct disc damage or slippage (spondylolisthesis). Today, many other procedures can be done with less invasive techniques to correct spine-related problems due to:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Scoliosis and other spinal deformities
- Vertebral compression fractures
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal infections or tumors
How Minimally Invasive Surgery Spine Works
Special instruments are used during minimally invasive spine surgery, along with a small camera that allows the orthopedic surgeon to view the affected area on a monitor. Procedures are performed with either general or regional anesthesia. During MISS, there isn’t the same need to retract muscle tissues to provide better access to the spine, so there is less risk of unintentionally damaging other areas around the part of the spine being treated.
Instead, tubular retractors are used to hold muscles open and provide access to the spine. Bone and disc material is removed through these tubes and any hardware necessary for a fusion procedure can also be placed through the tubes.
A type of real-time X-ray called a fluoroscopy is also used to help guide the surgeon. An operating microscope provides a magnified view of what’s seen through the tubes. The retractors are removed after the procedure is complete in a way that allows the muscles to return to their normal position.
Benefits of Less-Invasive Spine Surgery
With MISS, there’s less trauma to nearby tissues, which means less healing is involved. Smaller incisions also heal faster and have less chance of becoming infected. Experiencing less post-surgical pain can also mean not as much pain medication following surgery and an ability to participate in physical therapy without as much discomfort. Patients may also benefit from:
- Less blood loss during surgery
- Shorter hospital stays (usually about 2-3 days)
- Better ability to perform daily activities post-surgery
- Being able to safely return to work sooner
- Greater precision with the area of the spine that’s affected
Preferred patients for most types of minimally invasive spine surgery are typically individuals in good health overall. Less invasive techniques also tend to produce better results when the problem is relegated to one area rather than multiple levels of the spine. Even with procedures that aren’t completely minimally invasive, less disruptive techniques may still be incorporated into traditional approaches to spine surgery. An orthopedic surgeon can help determine whether MISS will likely benefit you.