If you’re like most people, when you hear the word “surgery,” you probably envision the surgeon using a scalpel to make a long incision in order to access your internal organs and tissues. This is what’s known as traditional, open surgery. But if you’ve been told you’re a candidate for spine surgery, it’s important you realize that many common procedures can now be performed using minimally invasive techniques. Since there are many advantages to minimally invasive spine surgery, we’ve created this blog post to help you understand what it is and why you should seek out this type of treatment if it’s right for you.
How is minimally invasive spine surgery different from open surgery?
Rather than performing surgery through one large opening, minimally invasive surgery utilizes much smaller incisions, though sometimes more than one incision is needed. Special surgical instruments, including cameras or microscopes, allow the surgeon to carry out the procedure while viewing the internal structures on a screen.
Open spine surgery requires the surgeon to retract, or move, muscles in the area in order to access the spine. This can cause damage to muscles and the surrounding tissues. But with the advanced tools used during minimally invasive spine surgery, the surgeon can repair the spine with minimal disruption to nearby muscles and tissues.
How will you benefit from minimally invasive spine surgery?
There are several notable advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery. These include:
- Quicker recovery from surgery – Since little damage occurs to the muscle and tissues, you’ll likely feel better faster.
- Less pain after surgery – Similarly, decreased muscle injury and smaller incisions result in less pain.
- Shorter stays – Most procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you’ll go home the same day. You may be required in some cases to stay overnight for observation.
- Decreased risk of complications during and after surgery – Less blood loss occurs during minimally invasive surgery, and small incisions lower the risk of developing post-surgical infections.
- Minimal scarring after the procedure – Because the incisions are tiny, sometimes only half an inch long, you can often achieve a better cosmetic result than with open surgery.
What procedures can be performed using minimally invasive techniques?
With advances in technology, minimally invasive surgery can be used to treat several spine conditions, including degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and sciatica. Frequently used procedures include:
- Discectomy – Your intervertebral discs act as shock absorbers between the bones of your spine. They can become damaged or weakened over time, causing a portion of the disc to herniate out of place. This can put pressure on nerves in the area, causing pain. A minimally invasive discectomy can be performed to remove all or part of the damaged disc, thereby taking pressure off the nerves.
- Spinal decompression – The openings within your spine can become narrowed as you get older, putting pressure on your spinal cord and the nerves that run through it. This can lead to pain, weakness, and numbness, sometimes radiating into your neck or extremities. A surgeon can remove part of the lamina, the bony top of the spine, or widen the openings of the foramina, where nerves travel through the spinal canal, to decompress the spinal cord and nerves.
- Spinal fusion – To help relieve chronic back pain and restore stability to the spine, a minimally invasive spinal fusion may be performed. This procedure uses a bone graft to fuse two separate vertebrae into one solid bone.
How do you know if you are a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery?
Though minimally invasive surgery is often desirable, there are select cases where open surgery is still the preferred route. The best way to determine if you are a candidate is to schedule a consultation with a spine specialist who is proficient in minimally invasive procedures. During your consultation, you can discuss what options are available to bring you long-lasting relief.
About the author
discmdgroup DISC Sports and Spine Center (DISC) is one of America’s foremost providers of minimally invasive spine procedures and advanced arthroscopic techniques. Our individually picked, highly specialized physicians apply both established and innovative solutions to diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate their patients in a one-stop, multi-disciplinary setting. With a wide range of specialists under one roof, the result is an unmatched continuity of care with more efficiency, less stress for the patient, and a zero MRSA infection rate. Read more articles by discmdgroup.