Patients with spinal disorders used to have no choice but to go under the knife with traditional open surgery. This operation involves large incisions, which results in extended hospital stays and increased risk of complications.
Rapid advances in surgical techniques and technologies have made it possible to achieve similar — if not superior — results using less invasive methods. Let’s go through four types of minimally invasive spinal surgeries that you can consider for yourself or your loved ones.
What Is Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery?
Traditional open surgery requires a long incision in your back and the removal of surrounding muscles and soft tissues. In a minimally invasive spinal surgery, your spine surgeon will make a much smaller incision that is often only a few centimeters.
Once the opening is created, they will insert a tubular retractor to create a tunnel leading to the affected area by gently pushing aside the tissues in your back. Your surgeon will use image guidance technology to get real-time images of the spine during the procedure. Then, they will insert small tools through the tunnel to perform the procedure and make the necessary repairs.
After the procedure, your surgeon will remove the tools and the retractor. They will close the incision with minimal stitches, glue, or staples.
There are several advantages of minimally invasive spinal surgery compared with open surgery, including:
- Reduced operative pain
- Shorter hospital stay (some procedures may even be performed on an outpatient basis)
- Less risk of surgical complications
- Shorter recovery period
Four Types Of Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgeries
Some spinal disorders can be treated using minimally invasive spinal surgery. Here are four types of procedures:
1. Lumbar Fusion
Lumbar fusion is a procedure where your surgeon fuses two or more bones in your spine to provide stability and restore strength. During this spine surgery, your surgeon will make a small incision. They will use a tubular retractor to slowly push at the surrounding structures instead of cutting the muscles to reach the bone. Once they’re in, your surgeon will combine the vertebrae using bone or other material.
Lumbar fusion may help with the following conditions:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spaces within the spine)
- Spinal fracture
- Infection/tumor in the spinal column
2. Lumbar Decompression
Spinal discs are cushion-like structures located between the vertebrae. Disease and old age can cause the outer wall of the disc to weaken and push the soft jelly-like center out. This bulging part of the disc can put pressure on the spinal cord and cause painful symptoms. Lumbar decompression, also known as discectomy, involves removing these damaged discs.
In this minimally invasive spinal surgery, your surgeon will make a small incision to remove a part of the damaged disc. They may use a tubular retractor and special tools to take out the bulging disc part.
Lumbar decompression is usually performed on individuals whose herniated discs have become too painful or debilitating. However, not everyone with a herniated disc may need to go through surgery. Your doctor will exhaust conservative treatments first before considering this option.
Kyphoplasty is a procedure that helps with spinal compression fractures. During this procedure, your doctor will make a small incision and insert a narrow tube. Using image guidance, your doctor will carefully insert and inflate a small balloon. The pressure from the balloon will help realign the vertebra.
After removing the balloon, your doctor will fill the cavity with medical-grade cement. Once this hardens, it will stabilize the spine.
Your doctor may recommend kyphoplasty for spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis or cases where the bones have been badly damaged.
4. Posterior Cervical Foraminotomy
This procedure expands the foramen or the space where the nerve roots exit the spinal cord. Some conditions can cause blockages to form in the foramen, causing the spinal column to narrow and compressing the nerves.
Arthritis is one of the leading causes of blockages warranting foraminotomy. A bone spur or a bulging disc can also lead to blockages in the foramen.
During a foraminotomy, your doctor will use small tools to remove obstructions within the foramen and ease pressure on the compressed nerves.
Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery In Colorado
Despite its benefits, not everyone may be a candidate for minimally invasive spinal surgery. Make sure to consult with your healthcare provider. Your doctor will perform a thorough assessment of your condition and discuss your options.
If you want to check if you are fit to undergo minimally invasive spinal surgery in the Colorado area, visit Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery today. Our board-certified neurosurgeons will perform a thorough assessment to determine the best treatment option. You can trust our highly skilled team to speed up your recovery and get you back to normal in no time.
To schedule a consultation with our neurosurgeons, you may contact us at (303) 790-1800 or fill out our online appointment request form. We have four locations to serve you: Lone Tree, Parker, Colorado Springs, and Aurora. Give us a call today, and let us help you get the care you deserve!