WHAT IS MINIMALLY INVASIVE SPINE SURGERY?
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS) is any procedure that is performed through a small incision in the neck or back. Compared to the more ‘traditional’ spine surgery which involves a larger incision, minimally invasive procedures use advanced imaging techniques and specialized medical equipment to separate (rather than cut) muscles and tissues.
The spine surgeons at Virginia Spine Institute are on the forefront of minimally invasive procedures that protect healthy tissue and maintain the normal structure of the spine. Our spine surgeons may recommend minimally invasive surgery to treat pain, tingling/numbness, weakness, or instability commonly found in spinal conditions, after exhausting non-operative therapies.
WHY MINIMALLY INVASIVE SURGERY?
Minimally invasive procedures require smaller incisions resulting in faster recovery times, less anesthesia and exposure to radiation, and shorter hospital stays.
Learn if you are a candidate for this treatment.
WHICH INJURIES OR CONDITIONS BENEFIT MOST FROM MINIMALLY INVASIVE SPINE SURGERY?
Minimally invasive spine surgery can be used to treat many conditions including:
- Disc herniations
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal fusion
- Complex scoliosis reconstructions
- Compression fractures
- Spinal stenosis
BENEFITS OF MINIMALLY INVASIVE SPINE SURGERY
Minimally invasive spine surgery offers the same post-surgical benefits as traditional spine surgery, but with much less trauma. In recent years, minimally invasive techniques have changed the face of spine surgery and ultimately surgical recovery.
Some common benefits associated with non-invasive spine surgery include:
- More effective surgical outcomes
- Faster recovery time and less post-operative pain
- Shorter hospital stay
- Less anesthesia and radiation exposure
- Smaller incisions leading to less scarring
- Reduced blood loss during surgery
- Reduced risk of infection
HOW DOES THIS TREATMENT HELP SPINAL CONDITIONS?
Minimally invasive spine surgery allows our surgeons to perform complex, detailed procedures through a small incision while protecting the surrounding healthy tissue. Patients that undergo a minimally invasive surgery can expect more effective results, shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery times.
Learn if you are a candidate for this treatment.
MORE ABOUT MINIMALLY INVASIVE SPINE SURGERY
- Robot-Guided Spine Surgery
- Ultrasonic Spine Surgery
- Endoscopic Spine Surgery
- Lumbar Laminectomy Spine Surgery
As spine surgeons at Virginia Spine Institute, it is our job to understand the goals of our patients and recommend the best treatment options that will help them attain those goals. Part of this philosophy means we are constantly developing safer, more effective treatments to improve our patients’ lives, in the form of minimally invasive spine surgery. These innovative techniques allow our surgeons to perform less invasive surgical procedures with smaller incisions, faster recovery times, and shorter hospital stays.
Effectiveness of a Minimally Invasive Surgical Approach in the Treatment of a Lumbar Disc Herniation
A 43-year-old patient presented to Virginia Spine Institute with pain that began in the left buttock and radiated down her left leg and calf to the top of her foot. She was initially seen by her primary care physician, who told her that she probably had a muscular strain and prescribed a muscle relaxant. The muscle relaxant was ineffective and she began noticing tingling and numbness along the top of her foot associated with pain. She felt that her symptoms were clearly worse when she was standing and walking. She found some relief lying down with a pillow under her knees.
At her primary care follow up, her symptoms had not improved over the course of approximately one month and an MRI scan was ordered and obtained. The MRI scan demonstrated evidence of degeneration of the discs at L4/L5. The disc space was darker indicating loss of water content, or desiccation. Desiccation is one of the first signs of disc deterioration. Also associated with this disc degeneration was a disc herniation clearly originating from the L4/L5 disc protruding toward the left side of the spinal canal.
When the patient was seen, several possible options were discussed. She was given oral steroids and cortisone epidural injections in an attempt to alleviate her symptoms. She also participated in physical therapy and was prescribed medications for pain relief. All these options failed to improve her symptoms. She had severe pain with numbness and tingling in the left leg and felt disabled by the pain. Her lifestyle was affected as she was having difficulty working, sleeping and taking care of her family. After exhausting non-operative treatments without improvement, the patient considered surgical intervention. Traditionally, the surgery for this problem entails an open incision which strips the muscle from the spine and allows the surgeon to remove a window of bone, removing the disc herniation directly. The patient was offered the possibility of a minimally invasive approach using a tubular retractor which does not cause any damage to the muscle. This technique lets a microscope visualize the critical structures of the spine and allows a laser to vaporize the disc herniation, thereby minimizing damage to the degenerative disc. The patient decided to pursue a minimally invasive approach.
The patient was taken to the operating room under general anesthesia. Fluoroscopic guidance was used to identify the L4/L5 level. A one-half inch incision was made approximately one inch from the midline. Through that incision a series of tubular dilators were used to displace the muscles without causing any damage and identify the area of disc herniation. Using a microscope to visualize these structures the nerve roots were gently mobilized. The disc herniation was identified and vaporized using a microsurgical laser. The nerve roots were carefully returned to the normal position. Absorbable sutures were placed to cover the incision and a band-aid covered the wound. The patient woke from anesthesia and was taken to the recovery room. She was discharged home approximately one hour later without feeling any pain in her left leg.