Living with back pain can be just that – a huge pain. At Englewood Spine Associates, it is always our goal to help you feel better so you can get back to living your life with less pain, and to facilitate that in the most conservative way possible. But when those treatment options are no longer working, it may be time to consider surgery. Even if surgery is the next step, not all surgeries are created equal. In fact, some approaches, like minimally invasive spine surgeries (MISSs), can provide positive outcomes with less disruption to your life.

What is minimally invasive spine surgery?

Traditional surgery takes an “open” approach, where surgeons make incisions large enough to access most, if not all, of the treatment area. During this process, your surgeon must spread, pull aside, or remove a relatively large amount of muscle and surrounding tissue to fully access the surgical site. With a minimally invasive approach, the practitioner makes one or more small incisions, each measuring approximately half an inch, through which they insert a small metal tube or endoscope, allowing them to operate in a smaller field. While the large incisions and open approach can cause more muscle damage after surgery, the smaller incisions cause significantly less. And yet, oftentimes, the clinical outcomes are similar, if not better, for the patient.

What conditions can be treated with minimally invasive spine surgery?

The conditions that can benefit from a minimally invasive approach include:

  • spinal instability
  • bone spurs
  • herniated discs
  • scoliosis
  • spinal tumors
  • spine trauma
  • spinal stenosis
  • spinal infections

What are the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery?

Minimally invasive spine surgery has many advantages over traditional approaches, including:

  • Shorter procedures and hospital stays
  • Reduced risk of muscle damage, infection, and complications during and after surgery
  • Decreased recovery time and pain
  • Minimized scarring and better cosmetic appearance
  • Less blood loss
  • Faster recovery, less rehabilitation, and expedited return to normal life
  • Potential for less anesthesia

What procedures can be performed with a minimally invasive approach?

Some of the most common spine surgeries that can be performed with a minimally invasive method include:

  • Lumbar decompression which includes removing segments of bone or a herniated disc to relieve pressure on spinal nerves.
  • Artificial disc replacement is a procedure where a surgeon replaces a patient’s damaged discs between their vertebrae with artificial ones, relieving back pain and protecting mobility.
  • Deformity corrections that address spinal irregularities like scoliosis or kyphosis.

What techniques are used in minimally invasive spine surgery?

As technology advances so does a surgeon’s ability to perform minimally invasive spine surgery. One of the most common methods used is endoscopic, where the practitioner uses a small camera in conjunction with surgical instruments to help navigate the operation field. Significant advancements are also emerging in minimally invasive spine surgery, utilizing tools like computer guided surgical robots and augmented reality to assist with procedures as well as artificial intelligence (AI) to assess patient information and predict what surgery might be best for their specific needs.

What are the risks associated with minimally invasive spine surgery?

Even with the advantages of using a minimally invasive approach to spine surgery, it is still an operation with risks for complications including:

  • Poor reaction to anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Pain
  • Recurrence of symptoms
  • Pseudarthrosis, a condition that can occur when a spinal fusion does not heal due to lack of bone formation
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Nerve damage
  • Spinal fluid leakage

What can patients expect during recovery from minimally invasive spine surgery?

Most often, minimally invasive spine surgery patients can go home the same day as their surgery, or in as little as one or two days after. Patients who undergo this type of procedure often experience less pain, but some discomfort is normal. Depending on the type of procedure as well as their general physical health, patients may or may not need physical therapy.

Is minimally invasive spine surgery right for you?

Every patient is different, so every treatment must be as well. The best way to determine if minimally invasive spine surgery is right for you is to speak with an experienced practitioner.

Englewood Spine’s Dr. Cole has completed more than 10,000 successful orthopedic spine procedures over the last 25-plus years. Before our team performs any procedure, we take the time to educate you on your condition and provide you with all available treatment options to help you make an informed decision. We always strive to treat our patients with the most conservative approach possible; but when conservative care fails, we have many state-of-the-art, minimally invasive solutions that can be tailored to treating your condition. If you’d like to learn more about minimally invasive spine solutions, please contact us today.

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