Traditional “open” spine surgery may require several days in the hospital as it may involve a three-inch long incision, in which muscles and tissues are separated for optimal access to the injury site. The surgery usually results in trauma to surrounding tissues and some blood loss. Because of this the affected tissues and muscles need adequate healing time.
Spine Group Alabama encourages the latest minimally invasive techniques and instrumentation to help patients recover in a shorter period of time and allow for a quicker return home.
Innovative developments in minimally invasive techniques have pioneered better ways for the surgeon to access the spine, moreover making the recovery process more seamless. In minimally invasive spine surgery, a smaller incision is made, sometimes only a half-inch in length. The surgeon inserts special surgical instruments through these tiny incisions to access the damaged disc in the spine.
Entry and repair to the damaged disc or vertebrae is achieved without harming nearby muscles and tissues when using minimally invasive techniques.
Minimally invasive spine surgery requires extensive training and experience to master use of the tools, but there is tremendous benefit for the patient.
All of the surgical equipment used in minimally invasive spine surgery must be able to pass through a keyhole-sized portal. These portals are left in during the entire surgery to allow specially designed surgical tools to move freely into the patient’s spinal column and not to damage the soft tissue from exiting and inserting equipment.
When the portal is removed at the end of the surgery, the surrounding soft tissues slowly fall back into their normal place and only require a small amount of stitches to close the area.
Some surgical procedures of MIS of the thoracic spine may require the anesthesiologist to specifically deflate the lung closest to the operating area and the patient will breathe with the other lung throughout the entire procedure. It is considered a very common practice in order to allow more space for the spine surgeon to operate within the thoracic spine.
Minimally invasive spine surgery uses a small hole the size of a dime to allow a special endoscope with a constant video feed inserted in the hole to access the damaged area of the spine.
A minimally invasive tubular retractor (MITR) is used to gain access to the spinal column. The device goes through a small keyhole in the muscles of the back, reducing damage to the spine where as normal open back surgery pulls the muscles away from the spine causing soft tissue damage. This device also helps control blood loss since it is not as harsh on the body than the alternative procedure.
A fluoroscopic C-arm is used to show continuous x-ray images on a monitor which enables the surgeon to navigate to precise areas in the back or neck.
Minimally invasive spine surgery cannot be used for all surgeries. Some procedures, like scoliosis surgery or reconstructive scoliosis surgery, require a very long incision to be able to insert special parts to be attached to the spine.
Not every spinal procedure or patient is a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery. Your spine surgeon can advise you if there are new techniques and instrumentation available for your particular problem. Also getting a second opinion for spine surgery can help ensure that you are receiving the least invasive surgical option.
Typically minimally invasive spine approaches lessen blood loss and reduce risks. Some of the risks associated with ANY type of spine surgery includes: adverse reactions to the anesthetic, blood loss, infection, blood clots, pneumonia, instrumentation tools causing damage to spine and surrounding tissues, and even paralysis (extremely rare).
If the patient has exhausted all non-surgical options and decides on a minimally invasive spine surgery procedure, it is important for the patient to stop smoking, stop taking non-essential medications that could cause an adverse reaction during surgery, and exercise regularly to increase your body’s immune system to help speed up recovery time. Make sure to ask your spine surgeon any questions or concerns that you may have.