There was a time when the prospect of having back surgery – particularly a surgical procedure involving the spine – was something to dread. Not only was it painful and complicated, but risky as well. But that was before minimally invasive surgery (MIS) became not only an option but often the best option available.
The primary purpose of MIS is to stabilize vertebral bones and spinal joints. It is also used to relieve pressure applied to the spinal nerves which is often caused by conditions such as bone spurs, herniated discs, scoliosis, or spinal tumors.
Unlike open spine surgery, minimally invasive surgical methods are performed faster, are safer and generally require less recovery time. Since there is less trauma to your muscles and soft tissue, MIS offers a number of benefits, including:
- A reduced risk of muscle damage
- Less blood loss and a reduced risk of postoperative pain or infection
- Improved cosmetic results since it involves much smaller skin incisions
- A faster recovery period, as well as less rehabilitation
- Less need for post-operative pain medication
Another advantage of some minimally invasive surgeries is that they can be performed as outpatient procedures, requiring only local anesthesia.
Here’s How MIS Works
The challenge posed by spinal surgery is that muscle tissue must be moved out of the way in order to gain access to the spinal area. Usually, this is done by making one or more large incisions and guiding medical instruments through these cuts. However, minimally invasive surgery involves the use of unique, miniaturized tools that allow a surgeon to perform operations through smaller incisions.
Here are a few of the options that can be used to minimize trauma during a MIS procedure:
- Discectomy – This involves the surgical removal of herniated disc material that is pressing on a root nerve or the spinal column and causing pain. This procedure can be performed with MIS using an endoscope or tubular dilators and a microscope.
- (TILF) Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion – TILF is a MIS procedure that fuses the front and back of the spine. It is predominantly used to treat patients with spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease, and recurrent disc herniation, but it can potentially help patients with low back pain caused by spinal trauma or chronic pain following back surgeries.
- Spinal decompression:Using tubular dilators and a microscope or an endoscope, surgeons can remove the bone and soft tissues causing spinal stenosis (nerve compression), thereby relieving the pain, numbness, and muscle weakness associated with the condition.
There are conditions that are not operable using minimally invasive surgery, and in some cases, it may not be as safe or effective as traditional open surgery. An orthopedic surgeon can tell you whether minimally invasive surgery is a viable option to treat your particular spinal condition.
If you’re experiencing back pain, you may be considering spinal revision surgery. If so, you need to consult a reputable, board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who can educate you about your options. The staff at Orthopaedic Associates utilizes both cutting-edge therapies and traditional treatments to address a variety of spinal conditions. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, call (440) 892-1440.