What is minimally invasive spine surgery?
Minimally invasive spine surgery is surgery performed using the least invasive techniques and minimal incisions possible to access the spine. This can involve special instruments and implants designed to be delivered through that least invasive opening. Traditional spine surgery involves long, deep cuts through muscles, which can leave long scars and require an extended amount of healing time.
In minimally invasive spine surgery, a small incision is made. A series of tubular dilators is then inserted in order to widen the opening to grant surgeons access to the area with minimal damage to muscle tissue. Because the muscle tissue is spread apart, it is able to close back after surgery is complete. This means less scarring and a faster recovery time than traditional spine surgery. The surgeon then works through the tubes, using special tools to perform the surgery.
Image guided minimally invasive spine surgery is the safest and most precise technique for doctors performing minimally invasive spine surgery. Using sophisticated imaging tools such as a StealthStation1 and a special O-arm scanner1 that produces images all around your body, the doctor is able to produce a virtual image of the spine that shows screw placement and trajectory as he operates. This allows him to perform much more precise placement and decreases chances for non-union or failure to fuse.
1O-arm and StealthStation are both trademarks of Medtronic.
The benefits to minimally invasive spine surgery are numerous. By working through a smaller incision, pain and blood loss are reduced, as well as tissue and muscle damage. Patients may have a shorter hospital stay than with traditional spine surgery, as well as less need for post-operative narcotics. Because musculature damage is reduced, pain and recovery time are cut down, so the patient can get back to living life sooner, rather than later. Depending on the procedure, patients can leave the hospital in as little as 1-2 days. Your doctor will advise you on the length of your stay.
Every person is unique, and so is their spine. Not every person is eligible for minimally invasive spine surgery. Many operations can be performed via minimally invasive spine surgery, but the surgeon may opt to perform traditional spine surgery if the proper conditions are not met. Your doctor will discuss the procedure to be performed and whether you are a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery.
As with any surgery, minimally invasive spine surgery does have risks. Risks can include nonunion, allergic reaction, blood clots, pain, and in some cases, death. This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of a physician. Please contact your doctor for all questions.