Many patients needing spine surgery appreciate having more options with procedures that are less invasive. While there are many appealing benefits associated with minimally invasive spine surgery, there are times when open or traditional procedures are recommended for practical or patient-specific reasons. Take a moment to learn how minimally invasive spine surgery compares to similar procedures performed traditionally with “open” techniques.
Also referred to as laparoscopic surgery, minimally invasive spine surgery, or MISS, is performed with specialized tools. Some less invasive techniques are also used with robotic assistance. The equipment allows the surgeon to make smaller incisions than what’s common with open surgery. One tool commonly used with MISS is a laparoscope. It provides a live video feed for the surgeon via a tiny camera inserted into the incision. A few additional smaller incisions are often made for other tools needed to perform the procedure.
Preventing excess tissue damage is one of the perks associated with minimally invasive spine surgery. Some of the other benefits include:
• Faster recovery times
• Reduced post-surgery pain
• Fewer complication risks
• Lower hospitalization costs
• A reduced need for the prolonged use of post-surgery medication
Even with all the good things about MISS, there are some drawbacks to be aware of as well. For instance, it’s not always easy to be precise when performing surgery via a live feed rather than a direct view. However, an experienced surgeon is often able to produce results beneficial for the patient. This is why it’s important to take time to choose a surgeon who’s familiar with the many nuances associated with minimally invasive spine surgery.
Open surgery is done in a way that “opens” or exposes the affected area to allow for direct visualization rather than a view displayed on a monitor. A larger incision is made, and specialized tools hold back skin and tissues so the procedure can be properly performed. The result can be a larger scar, longer healing and recovery times, and the possibility of more initial post-surgery discomfort.
While each situation is unique to some extent, common reasons to recommend open spine surgery over minimally invasive methods include:
• Needing to directly access the spine to address a more delicate issue (e.g., the removal of a spinal tumor)
• Needing to access multiple layers of the spine in a safer, more precise way
• Needing to have a second surgery performed because an initial minimally invasive one wasn’t fully effective
Also, open surgery sometimes eliminates certain hurdles for patients, such as having to search for a surgeon experienced in certain minimally invasive procedures. Plus, some patients have a preference for a traditional approach when they’re having a procedure such as artificial disc replacement surgery. Santa Monica patients should explore all their options carefully with their doctors.
There are pros and cons associated with both minimally invasive and open spine surgery. What’s right for you will depend on several factors, including what’s going on with your spine and whether or not there are underlying health issues that may need to be kept in mind. A spine specialist can give you a better idea of what approach to spine surgery will likely benefit you most if nonsurgical options are no longer providing sufficient relief.
When they’re looking for a premier minimally invasive spine surgeon, Santa Monica patients should choose experts with a great deal of experience in minimally invasive techniques. To learn more about various types of spine surgery, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Hyun Bae and his team at The Spine Institute. Call us today at (310) 828-7757 to schedule an in-person consultation.