What Makes Spine Surgery Minimally Invasive?

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You’ve properly heard the term “minimally invasive” in relation to spine surgery at some point. Yes, it can be a good thing for many patients with persistent back pain not responding to other treatments. However, it’s just as important to know what “minimally invasive” really means so you’ll be as prepared as possible if spine surgery in Los Angeles is in your immediate future.

Smaller Incisions

The primary characteristic of any minimally invasive spine surgery is the size of the incisions, which is usually half of an inch or less as opposed to 5 to 6 inches in length. A typical operation using this technique will involve several small incisions to insert instruments. A special camera (fluoroscope) is inserted as well so the surgeon can see real-time X-rays and other images on a monitor in the operating room and views can be magnified with an operating microscope.

Less Tissue Damage

During an open procedure, the pulling or retraction of muscles necessary to reach the surgery site can damage nearby tissues. This may result in longer healing time and additional pain during the recovery period. There’s also the potential of muscle injury and the possibility a patient will experience a different type of back pain as a result of muscle damage.

Decreased Healing and Recovery Time

Since smaller incisions are needed with MISS, patients often spend less time in the hospital before discharge. Recovery can also take less time since fewer tissues need to recover or heal. Minimally invasive procedures can also mean:

  • Less reliance on pain medications
  • Limited blood loss
  • Better response to physical therapy

Limitations of Minimally Invasive Surgeries

Any spine surgery presents a certain degree of risk even if it’s considered a “minimally invasive” operation. For instance, some spinal procedures involving smaller incisions to insert tubes to remove parts of the bone can be just as traumatic.

Depending on the extent of your back issues, an open procedure, referring to traditional surgical openings and procedures, may still be recommended, especially if special circumstances are involved. MISS where the spine is accessed from the back, for example, can only be done if one level of the spine is affected.

To learn more about various spine surgeries or if you would like a second opinion, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Hyun Bae and his team at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. We specialize in minimally invasive techniques, spinal fusions, and lumbar and cervical artificial disc replacement and help each patient make the treatment decision right for him or her. Call us today at (310) 828-7757 to schedule an in-person consultation.