A herniated disc occurs when a cartilage disc between vertebrae deteriorates. Discs normally provide cushioning for the rest of the spine and may form bulges that compress nearby nerves. In many cases, the damaged disc may cause significant pain and neurological symptoms.
While traditional surgical techniques effectively resolve cases that don’t respond to conservative treatment, they tend to feature long recovery times and significant pain during the initial postoperative period. Fortunately, minimally invasive spinal surgery solves many of these issues.
Why You Should (Or Shouldn’t) Get Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery
Many people who have disc herniation don’t need surgery. In many cases, conservative management methods focused on lifestyle changes can help reduce the stress on the damaged disc and prevent the disease from progressing. Medications and physical therapy also go a long way in managing pain and restoring mobility.
However, sometimes, spinal surgery is the best option, especially in severe cases. Surgery can provide long-lasting relief and improved mobility with only a few downsides.
Minimally invasive spinal surgery shares many indications and contraindications with conventional surgery. Fortunately, herniated discs respond relatively well to surgery. Removal of the bulging portions of the damaged discs directly relieves pressure on nearby tissues and alleviates the symptoms of disc degeneration.
However, the patient must be in relatively good health to tolerate the unavoidable tissue trauma that comes from surgery. Since surgeons have to cut through skin and muscle tissue to reach the spine, blood loss and tissue damage are expected. Collateral damage is reduced with a minimally invasive approach, leading to less pain and scarring, and a shorter recovery.
Additionally, minimally invasive spinal surgery requires highly skilled spine surgeons and advanced tools. Unfortunately, not all facilities have these resources. The additional training and equipment required for minimally invasive surgery also mean higher treatment costs. You also need to confirm if your medical insurance covers minimally invasive spinal surgery.
Finally, minimally invasive spinal surgery might not be feasible based on the specifics of your condition. Each procedure uses a customized approach, and some disc herniations might not be readily accessible without an open surgery technique.
Benefits of Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery
It is recommended that you go for minimally invasive spinal surgery, should you qualify for it. Minimally invasive methods use muscle-sparing techniques to minimize incisions that damage healthy tissues. Using a tubular retractor and endoscope instruments means that surgeons can operate on your spine even with a tiny incision.
Less tissue damage means patients experience less blood loss and soft tissue damage, which drastically reduces the risk of surgical complications. Less anesthesia is also used. Smaller incisions reduce the attack surfaces for pathogens, so minimally invasive spinal surgery has lower infection rates.
Patients also have shorter hospital stays, quicker recovery times, and less visible scars. While open surgery might require a recovery period of up to a year, patients who undergo minimally invasive surgery can return to daily activities within a few months.
Risks of Spine Surgery
It is essential to know the risks of minimally invasive spinal surgery to assess if this is the right option for you. General risks for all surgeries include allergic reactions to anesthesia, infection of the surgical site, and blood loss. Being immobilized for too long during and after surgery can also promote pneumonia and blood clot formation in the legs. However, speedier operations can heavily reduce these risks.
Any spinal surgery carries the risk of nerve injury, which can cause pain and paralysis. Surrounding soft tissue may also be unnecessarily damaged. Fluid from the spinal column may also leak during and after surgery. Fortunately, adequate surgeon skills can eliminate most of these risks.
For complicated cases, it may be possible for minimally invasive spinal surgery to fail to resolve the condition completely. Hence, you may have to undergo secondary surgery. In some cases, the second procedure will have to be done using an open technique.
Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery in Colorado
Minimally invasive techniques improve surgery outcomes by reducing incision size and emphasizing muscle-sparing techniques. They offer better recovery times and reduced risk of surgical complications. However, minimally invasive procedures require specialized equipment and trained medical professionals adept with these techniques. Hence, where you opt to have spine surgery can determine whether you have the option for minimally invasive procedures.
At our five locations in Colorado, Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery provides advanced microsurgical techniques for intracranial and spinal disorders. We provide minimally invasive spinal surgery and other advanced techniques to provide patients with exceptional health care. Learn more by calling us at (303) 790-1800 or use our online appointment form.