Surgical Information

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

What is minimally invasive spine surgery?

Minimally invasive spine surgery is a safe and effective method to treat a wide range of spine disorders. It is performed through very small incisions and avoids significant damage to the muscles and tissues that surround the spine. As a result, the technique offers a host of advantages for patients, including:

  • Less blood loss during surgery
  • Less time in the operating room
  • Reduced risk of infection
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Faster recovery
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Fewer complications
  • Minimal scarring
  • Improved function
  • Quicker return to daily activities

Today, minimally invasive techniques are used successfully for many spine procedures, including discectomy, fusion, correction of deformities such as scoliosis, decompression of spinal tumors and repair of vertebral compression fractures.

Who is a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery?

The field of minimally invasive spine surgery continues to grow. Most spine surgeries today involve some aspect of this technique. However, minimally invasive surgery is not always the best option for every spine condition or every patient. Careful evaluation by a qualified surgeon is important to select the treatment best suited to an individual’s diagnosis and overall health.

Anatomy

The spine is the body’s main support structure. It is composed of three sections: the cervical spine (neck), the thoracic spine (mid back) and the lumbar spine (low back). Each section is made up of individual bones called vertebrae. Between each vertebra is a gel-like disc that acts as a shock absorber and provides a cushioning effect to absorb pressure and distribute stress. Facet joints link the vertebrae together and give them the flexibility to move against each other.

When is surgery recommended?

If you have worsening neck or back pain that limits your everyday activities, and conservative measures have failed to alleviate your symptoms, surgery may be necessary.

Minimally invasive surgical techniques are used to treat many spine disorders. But there are certain conditions that may require standard open treatment. It is important to consult with an experienced spine specialist to determine the best option for you.

What is the recovery time?

Because minimally invasive techniques do not disrupt muscles and soft tissues, patients experience less pain and a much faster recovery. Many of these procedures are now performed in an outpatient setting, and patients go home the same day. In the hospital, patients are usually up and walking soon after surgery and, depending on the type of procedure performed, typically return home within one or two days. Patients with sedentary jobs that do not involve travel are often back at work within a couple of weeks. As with all surgical procedures, specific recovery time varies by patient and demand.