With continuous advances in medical technology, surgeons are now able to perform many intricate spinal surgeries using minimally invasive surgical methods – making back surgery a lot safer and with less recovery time than via traditional surgery. Some of the most common spine conditions can indeed be treated through minimally invasive surgery, including herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, spinal fractures, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis.
Minimally invasive spinal surgery utilizes small, highly specialized surgical tools which require much smaller incisions than with traditional surgery. It therefore causes less trauma to the nearby skin, muscles, and other tissues. A surgical scope allows light and magnification during the surgery, and it enables real-time X-ray images of the spine to be transmitted onto a screen there in the operating room to guide the surgeon during the procedure.
Why Is Minimally Invasive Surgery Better than Traditional Open Surgery?
Minimally invasive surgery offers many benefits, including:
- A shorter hospital stay
- Smaller incisions (requiring fewer stiches)
- Smaller scars
- Less pain
- Decreased blood loss and trauma during the operation
- Fewer complications (such as infection)
- Quicker recovery and return to daily activities
Not all spine conditions can be treated using minimally invasive surgery, so traditional surgery is still required for certain types of back conditions.
Common Types of Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery
A few of the most-frequently performed minimally invasive spinal procedures include the following:
A lumbar fusion procedure is designed to treat lower back pain when movement is the source of pain. It may be performed to treat conditions such as degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, a tumor, or a spinal injury.
The procedure involves fusing together two or more vertebrae to strengthen and stabilize a segment of the spine. This type of surgery can eliminate painful motion or restore stability to the spine; and since most fusion surgeries affect only a small area of the back, any loss in range of motion is barely noticeable.
Compression of spinal nerves in the lower back (lumbar spine) can cause sciatica, weakness, numbness, and leg pain. A microdiscectomy in the lumbar spine (lumbar decompression surgery) is typically performed to relieve pressure on a spinal nerve root, as the pressure is often caused by a herniated disc. It is the herniation – the protrusion – that is causing the pressure.
This procedure involves removing a small portion of the bone over the nerve root and/or disc material from under the nerve root, which thereby relieves pressure on the nerve.
Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are performed to repair spinal compression fractures, which are usually the result of osteoporosis. These procedures help to relieve pain, to prevent further collapse of the fractured vertebra, and to restore normal spinal alignment.
During a kyphoplasty, the surgeon inserts a tiny, thin balloon into the fractured vertebra and inflates it to create a space in the fracture. Adding this space restores the vertebra to its correct height and shape. The balloon is then deflated and removed, and a special type of bone cement is injected into the space which was made in the vertebra.
A vertebroplasty is a similar procedure, but it does not involve the use of a balloon. Instead, the doctor simply injects the cement directly into the fracture while using image guidance – typically a fluoroscopy.
Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery in Denver and Colorado Springs
If you have chronic back pain or a spine condition and would like to find out whether minimally invasive spine surgery is an option for you, talk to the exceptionally qualified and experienced surgeons at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery. We can perform intricate spinal procedures using advanced minimally invasive techniques so that you can heal more quickly and get back to your life.