Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
Spine surgery is traditionally done as “open surgery,” meaning the area being operated on is opened with a long incision to allow the surgeon to view and access the anatomy. In recent years, however, technological advances have allowed more back and neck conditions to be treated with a minimally invasive surgical technique.
Because minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS), does not involve a long incision, it avoids significant damage to the muscles surrounding the spine. In most cases, this results in less pain after surgery and a faster recovery.
Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) is sometimes called less invasive spine surgery. In these procedures, doctors use specialized instruments to access the spine through small incisions.
In a traditional, open surgery, the doctor makes an incision that is 5 to 6 in. long and moves the muscles to the side in order to see the spine. With the muscles pulled to the side, the surgeon can access the spine to remove diseased and damaged bone or intevertebral disks. The surgeon can also easily see to place screws, cages, and any bone graft materials necessary to stabilize the spinal bones and promote healing.
Minimally invasive spine surgery was developed to treat spine problems with less injury to the muscles and other normal structures in the spine. It also helps the surgeon to see only where the problem exists in the spine. Other advantages to MISS include smaller incisions, less bleeding, and shorter stays in the hospital.
Common Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeries
MIS Lumbar Diskectomy
A herniated disk in the lower back that pinches a nerve may cause severe leg pain, numbness, or weakness. To surgically relieve these symptoms, the disk is removed. This procedure is called a diskectomy.
MIS Lumbar Fusion
In an MIS TLIF, the patient is positioned face-down and the surgeon places one retractor on either side of the spine. This approach prevents disruption of the midline ligaments and bone. Using the two retractors, the surgeon can remove the lamina and the disk, place the bone graft into the disk space, and place screws or rods to provide additional support.
Minimally invasive procedures can shorten hospital stays. The exact length of time needed in the hospital will vary with each patient and individual procedure, but generally, MISS patients go home in 2 to 3 days.
Because minimally invasive techniques do not disrupt muscles and soft tissues, it is believed that post-operative pain is less than pain after traditional, open procedures. You should still expect to feel some discomfort, however, advancements in pain control now make it easier for your doctor to manage and relieve pain.