Q. What is minimally invasive spine surgery and how is it different from traditional spine surgery?
A. Traditional spine surgery typically requires long incisions in the back. Muscles are cut and separated from the spine to allow access to the spinal anatomy. Minimally invasive spine surgery is performed through small incisions in the back. Surgeons use specialized instruments and navigational tools such as intraoperative x-ray, microscopes and tubular retractors. Like traditional spine surgery, the goal of minimally invasive surgery is to relieve your back and/or leg pain. But it adheres to a different philosophy – that as little muscle tissue as possible should be damaged.
The advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery include:
- Less muscle injury
- Less blood loss
- Less post-operative pain
- Faster rehabilitation
- Smaller scar
- Shorter hospital stay
- Faster return to activities of daily living (including work)
Not all types of spine surgery can be performed using a minimally invasive technique, and minimally invasive spine surgery is not recommended for everyone.