Medical technological advances now enable more and more spine conditions to be treated with minimally invasive surgical techniques. These are generally much safer and require a shorter recovery time than conventional surgery.
However, minimally invasive spine surgery isn’t always appropriate for all spinal conditions, and not everyone is a suitable candidate for it. Certain health conditions, severe spinal deformities, and those who have a large amount of scar tissue around the area may require conventional surgery instead.
Let’s take a look at these two types of spine surgeries and how they are different from each other.
How Can Spine Surgery Be Minimally Invasive?
Minimally invasive back surgery uses highly advanced technology to treat many types of spinal conditions and back pain. It utilizes specialized equipment and tiny surgical instruments to pass through very small incisions in the back. (The same instrument is used for other types of neurosurgery as well, including certain types of brain surgery.)
The surgeon uses a device called a tubular retractor to create a small tunnel to the precise area of the spine. The tubular retractor gently moves muscle and soft tissue aside without harming it or cutting through it, as would happen in conventional surgery.
The surgeon uses an operating microscope which provides light and magnification during the procedure. This also enables real-time X-ray images to be transmitted onto a monitor in the operating room to guide the surgery.
Benefits of Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery
There are many ways in which minimally invasive spine surgery helps the patient, including the following:
Less blood loss and trauma to healthy muscle and tissue – During conventional surgery, the surgeon often has to strip muscle and tissue away from the area in order to access the spine. This causes considerable trauma, blood loss, and bruising as compared to minimally invasive procedures, where the muscles and tissues remain intact.
Fewer complications and reduced risk of infection after surgery – A larger incision site is required in conventional surgery, which can mean a greater chance of infection and complications. Minimally invasive procedures have much smaller incision sites and do not require disruption of the surrounding tissues.
Less anesthetic required – Some minimally invasive spinal surgeries are performed as outpatient procedures, and they often only require a local anesthetic rather than general anesthesia. This means there is less risk of an adverse reaction and complications associated with the general anesthetic administered in conventional surgery. A local anesthetic also means a shorter recovery time post-surgery.
Reduced postoperative pain and smaller scars – Although there would be a bit of discomfort after minimally invasive surgery, it would not be as severe as that caused by conventional surgery. Minimally invasive surgery only requires small incisions which require fewer stitches, create much smaller scars, and allow faster healing.
Shorter recovery period and quicker return to work and activities – Because there is greater trauma and disruption to healthy tissue during conventional surgery, it requires a longer hospital stay and recovery period afterward. Patients who have minimally invasive procedures can often be home later that same day or within one or two days after the procedure.
What Can It Be Used For?
Minimally invasive spinal surgery can work effectively to treat conditions including:
- Mild scoliosis
- Lumbar and cervical disc herniation
- Age-related tears on spinal discs (spondylosis)
- Bones in the spine that have moved out of place (spondylolisthesis)
- Disc degeneration
- Mild deformities in the spine
Spine Doctor in Greater Detroit
If you would like more information about back surgery and the options that are available to you, contact our team at Ahlgren Spine today. We will be able to quickly diagnose your spine issue and explain what we can do for you.
You can call us at (248) 215-8080, or fill out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to helping you be more pain-free so you can enjoy life again!