In the past, people suffering from intractable cases of degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, herniated discs, scoliosis, and other types of spinal conditions were perennially stuck with traditional open spinal surgery—which involves a higher risk of complications.
Nowadays, while traditional open spinal surgery is still being used, significant advances in surgical technology and techniques have allowed certain types of spinal conditions to be treated using the minimally invasive approach.
The minimally invasive approach is becoming increasingly popular because it involves:
- A shorter hospital stay
- Less postoperative pain
- Less risk of complications (e.g., infection, blood loss, and damage to surrounding tissue)
- Smaller incisions, thus fewer and smaller scars
- A shorter recovery period and faster return to daily activities
How Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgeries Are Done
Spinal surgeries performed using the minimally invasive approach employ intraoperative spinal navigation. This means they are done using image guidance, either via fluoroscopy or endoscopy, to ensure optimal precision and patient safety.
During a minimally invasive spinal surgery, the surgeon makes a small incision and then inserts a tubular retractor –a surgical tool used for creating a narrow tunnel to gain access to the affected area of the spine. The tool allows the surgeon to gently move the surrounding soft tissue aside without harming it. The surgeon then uses small specialized instruments that fit through the center of the tubular retractor to work on the spine.
How Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgeries Work
There are a number of spinal procedures that can be carried out using the minimally invasive approach. Below is a brief outline of what they involve and how they work:
- Lumbar Fusion – which involves joining (fusing) vertebrae together to strengthen and stabilize a segment of the spine. It minimizes pain by preventing movement between damaged vertebrae in the low back.
- Microdiscectomy (Lumbar Decompression) – which involves removing a portion of the damaged lumbar disc to give the nerve root more space, thereby resolving the symptoms of nerve decompression.
- Kyphoplasty– which is used to treat spinal compression fractures, usually resulting from osteoporosis. Surgery aims to relieve pain, prevent the worsening of the fracture, and restore normal spinal alignment.
- Posterior Cervical Foraminotomy – which is done to enlarge the foramen (space where the nerve root exits the spinal cord), thereby releasing nerve root compression in the neck. This type of surgery is also used to remove part of a herniated disc that is causing nerve compression.
When Is Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery Not Recommended?
Minimally invasive spinal surgery is only appropriate for certain types of spinal conditions and not everyone is a suitable candidate for it. In cases of severe spinal deformities or where there is a large amount of scar tissue around the surgical area, a traditional open spinal surgery may be necessary instead.
Your spinal surgeon will perform a thorough evaluation of your condition and discuss whether a minimally invasive spinal surgery is the best option for you.
Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery in Lone Tree, Parker, Colorado Springs, and Aurora, CO
At Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery, our board-certified neurosurgeons regularly perform minimally invasive spinal surgeries with remarkable success, helping countless patients feel, move, and live better.
To schedule a consultation with one of our neurosurgeons, contact Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery at (303) 790-1800. Alternatively, you can use our online form to request an appointment.