Minimally invasive spinal surgery uses advanced surgical techniques and state-of-the-art technology to treat many spinal conditions. This method of surgery is safer than regular surgery because there is less cutting of skin and nearby tissues, and thereby less blood loss and less time recovering – in addition to several other benefits.
How Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery Works
Minimally invasive spinal surgery is a complex medical procedure that uses specialized equipment and surgical instruments that are small enough to pass through incisions that are often barely an inch long. The surgeon uses a device called a tubular retractor to create a small tunnel to the precise area of the spine requiring surgery, and the tubular retractor gently moves muscle and soft tissue aside without harming it.
The surgeon uses an operating microscope to provide light and magnification during the surgery. The physician also enables real-time X-ray images to be transmitted onto a screen in the operating room to help guide the procedure.
Benefits of a Minimally Invasive Operation
There are many factors that make minimally invasive spinal surgery a better, safer option than regular surgery. These factors include the following:
Less blood loss and damage to healthy tissue – During regular spine surgery, the surgeon often has to strip or cut muscle and tissue in the area in order to operate, thereby causing considerable trauma, blood loss, and bruising. In minimally invasive procedures, however, the muscles and tissues remain intact but are simply pushed aside and moved back again.
Fewer complications and reduced risk of infection after surgery – A larger incision site and trauma to nearby muscles and tissue can mean a greater chance of infection and complications, as compared to minimally invasive procedures which have a much smaller incision site and do not require as much disruption of the surrounding muscle and tissue.
Less anesthetic – Some minimally invasive spinal surgeries are performed as outpatient procedures and therefore often only require a local (not general) anesthetic. This means there is less risk of an adverse reaction or complications associated with the anesthesia. Having a local anesthetic also means a shorter recovery time immediately after the surgery.
Reduced postoperative pain – Although a patient who receives minimally invasive spinal surgery should still expect to feel some discomfort after the surgery, this discomfort is much less than what would be caused by regular open surgery. That is because there is much less disruption and injury to nearby muscles and surrounding tissue, so there is less that must heal.
Fewer and smaller scars – During regular open surgery, a larger incision is required, which causes bigger scars. But because minimally invasive surgery only requires small incisions, the scarring is much smaller and the area also heals much more quickly.
Quicker return to daily activities – Patients who have a minimally invasive spine operation can often go home the same day or in one to two days. Plus, getting back to a normal lifestyle is usually much quicker than after regular open surgery.
What Conditions Can the Surgery Treat?
Minimally invasive spinal surgery offers many advantages over regular surgery, but it isn’t always appropriate for all spinal conditions and not everyone is a suitable candidate for it. Certain health conditions, severe spinal deformities, or people who have a large amount of scar tissue around the area from previous surgeries may require regular surgery instead.
Evidence has shown that minimally invasive spinal surgery can work effectively for:
- Lumbar decompression
- Spinal fusion
- Certain cases of scoliosis
- Disc herniation
- Age-related tears on spinal discs (spondylosis)
- Vertebrae that have moved out of place (spondylolisthesis)
- Disc degeneration
- Less severe deformities in the spine
Spine Surgery in Colorado
At Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery, our main focus is providing you with the best possible experience. Our friendly staff members have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and our surgeons routinely perform minimally invasive spinal surgery. We perform lumbar fusion, microdiscectomy (lumbar decompression), kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty, posterior cervical foraminotomy, and other types of spine surgery.