Today, many surgeons perform minimally invasive surgery. The University Spine Center offers many different types of minimally invasive spine surgery. This innovative new surgical technique allows surgeons to perform many types of spinal operations through very small incisions, sometimes just an inch long.
Advantages of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
- The small incision involves less damage to the tissue. In open surgery, muscles, blood vessels, and nerves may be cut or disturbed. This happens far less with a tiny incision.
- Muscles do not need to be retracted or pushed out of the way during surgery. This may help you recover more quickly.
- There may be less blood loss.
- The scar is much smaller.
- Because of its small size, the incision may heal faster.
- Generally, minimally invasive surgery is faster (reduced operating time) and patients recover more quickly.
- Minimally invasive spine surgery may sometimes be done on an outpatient basis.
What Types of Minimally Invasive Surgical Options Are There?
The University Spine Center will discuss surgical options with you. Every patient is unique and many factors determine the appropriate surgery for you. As a general rule, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and certain spinal deformities can be effectively treated with minimally invasive spine surgery.
Procedures that may offered as minimally invasive spine surgery include, but are not limited to:
- Anterior and posterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF or PLIF)
- Cervical microframenotomy
- Extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF)
- Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF)
- Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF)
- XSTOP for spinal stenosis
- Surgery to implant interspinous spacers
- Cervical posterior decompression
How is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Performed?
The University Spine Center surgeon will make a small incision to access the spine and then insert a narrow, flexible tube called an endoscope. An endoscope has a light and camera attachment that allows the surgical team to view the spine on monitors in the operating room.
The surgeon then passes the appropriate surgical instruments through the endoscope. Using the light and camera from the endoscope, the surgeon then performs surgery, watching what is happening on the monitor.
Risks and Benefits of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
Every surgical procedure carries with it potential risks as well as benefits. While minimally invasive spine surgery is increasingly common and offers many advantages over open surgical procedures, it is not risk free. Discuss the risks of this or any surgery with your University Spine Center physician.
What to Expect from Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
The University Spine Center team will help advise you before your surgery of what to expect. The surgery will be explained to you along with instructions for what to do before you arrive. Many minimally invasive surgeries can be done as outpatient procedures under local anesthesia.
- If you smoke, you will be asked to quit as far in advance of surgery as possible. This is very important since smokers experience extra risk during surgery. Even qutting for a short time before surgery is helpful.
- You may be required to undergo X-rays or other image scans before surgery.
After Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
Many times, minimally invasive spine surgery is offered to outpatients, meaning that the patient can return home that night. Depending on your surgery, your condition, and other factors, you may be asked to stay in the hospital for recovery for a few hours or possibly overnight. Because there is less tissue disruption and a small incision, recovery may be faster and easier. The University Spine Center surgical team will provide instructions for your care when you are at home to facilitate a speedy and successful recovery.
Questions About Minimally Invasive Surgery
Every patient is different, so discuss your particular surgery with your physician. Things to ask your doctor might include:
- How long will the surgery take?
- When can I expect to be up and walking?
- When can I expect to go home?
- What restrictions will I have after surgery–and for how long?
- When can I resume my old activities?
- How should I care for the incision?
- Will I be in pain after the surgery and, if so, what should I do?