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Minimally Invasive Surgery

What is minimally invasive spine surgery?

Minimally invasive spine surgery is a surgical approach that corrects problems with your spinal vertebrae, discs, nerves, and joints. This type of spine surgery can relieve pressure, stabilize the spine, and ease pain using only small incisions in the back.

There are a number of different minimally invasive surgery techniques, but all approaches use very small incisions — only about half-inch long — to correct the deep-rooted cause of your pain and function issues. 

Surgeons commonly use special tools called tubular retractors to spread your spinal muscles apart rather than cutting them. This allows direct access to the necessary area using only tiny incisions. 

Your surgeon may use X-ray guidance or a fiber-optic camera to determine proper incision placement or to guide their movements during a procedure, such as placing any necessary surgical hardware like screws and rods to stabilize your spine. 

When might I need minimally invasive spine surgery?

The most common reasons for needing minimally invasive spine surgery include: 

  • Herniated disc
  • Degenerative disc disease 
  • Vertebral compression fractures
  • Spinal instability
  • Spinal tumors
  • Bone spurs
  • Lumbar (low back) spinal stenosis
  • Scoliosis or other spinal deformities
  • Spinal infections

Your neurologist may recommend minimally invasive spine surgery if you have one of these conditions and don't recover after medication, physical therapy, and other non-operative care. 

What are the advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery?

Because minimally invasive spine surgery requires only the tiniest incisions, it eliminates many of the issues that can go along with traditional spine surgery. The advantages of the minimally invasive approach include:

  • Less bleeding
  • Less surrounding tissue damage
  • Smaller scars
  • Decreased infection risk
  • Less pain
  • Reduced need for pain medication immediately after surgery
  • Less time in rehabilitation after surgery
  • Quicker recovery

In most cases, minimally invasive spine surgery requires only local anesthesia, which carries considerably lower risk than the general anesthesia needed for traditional open spine surgery. 

Usually, minimally invasive spine surgery is outpatient, so after a short recovery period at the surgical facility, you can return home that day. 

Minimally invasive spinal surgery provides long-term correction of your spinal issue without major surgery, large incisions, and extended recovery time.