Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
In minimally invasive spine surgery, doctors use specialized instruments through the skin or body cavity using small incisions. In a traditional, open surgery, the doctor makes an incision that is 5 to 6 in. long. In order to see where to place the incision and insert the retractor, the surgeon is guided by fluoroscopy. This method displays real-time x-ray images of the patient’s spine on a screen throughout the surgery. The surgeon also uses an operating microscope to magnify the view through the retractor. At the end of the procedure, the tubular retractor is removed and the muscles return to original position. This limits the muscle damage that is more commonly seen in open surgeries.
Minimally invasive procedures can shorten hospital stays. The exact length of time needed in the hospital will vary with each patient and individual procedure, but generally, patients go home in 2 to 3 days.
Because minimally invasive techniques do not disrupt muscles and soft tissues, it is believed that post-operative pain is less than pain after traditional, open procedures. You should still expect to feel some discomfort, however, advancements in pain control now make it easier for your doctor to manage and relieve pain.
To help you regain strength and speed your recovery, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. This will depend on the procedure you have had and your general physical condition. Specific exercises will help you become strong enough to return to work and daily activities.
The study demonstrated that the technique yielded the following advantages:
- Short skin incisions
- Minimal tissue dissection
- Decreased blood loss
- Short operative times
- Fewer preoperative complications
- Accelerated rehabilitation