Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Versus Traditional Back Surgery

Traditionally, back surgery has been a harrowing ordeal, taking a long time to perform and a very long time to recover from. However, this is no longer necessarily the case. New innovations now allow for minimally invasive spinal surgeries: outpatient procedures that are faster, easier, and can even use localized anesthetic. So can you have a minimally invasive procedure done instead of the much longer, more complicated surgery that doctors are saying you need? That depends. Here’s a basic rundown of minimally invasive spine surgery versus traditional back surgery.

A minimally invasive procedure uses a smaller incision than traditional surgery. It often involves endoscopy–that is, looking inside the body using remote cameras and other tools. These tools allow the doctor to see the area clearly that needs to be operated on, including muscles, nerves, and surrounding tissue, without cutting the patient wide open.

There are different types of minimally invasive procedures for different afflictions. Laser spine surgery is used to treat herniated discs and other disc-related problems. It’s designed for removal of a disc or bone without disturbing the surrounding soft tissue. It’s an outpatient procedure, meaning the patient can be in and out of the hospital on the same day, rather than staying overnight. There’s a follow-up appointment the next day and care to perform at home, but the patient can be back to work and their normal, daily routine in as little as a few days.

Micro spine surgery uses a microscope to operate on cells and tissues that are too small to be seen with the naked eye. As such, it’s a precision procedure, and is performed without any cutting of muscles or ligaments, and without any removal or fusion of bones. It’s often done to fix a pinched nerve, and can alleviate not just back pain, but leg, neck, and arm pain as well. It’s also an outpatient procedure, and may be performed with either local or general anesthetic, depending on the extent of the surgery.

When it comes to minimally invasive spine surgery versus traditional back surgery, it would appear that minimally invasive procedures win hands down. So why isn’t it used all the time? Well, first of all, not all back patients are candidates for minimally invasive treatment. Sometimes the patient requires spinal fusion, which is the rather extensive ordeal that constitutes traditional back surgery. It involves things like bone grafts, as well as implants of titanium screws and other items. It requires general anesthesia and often several months of recovery, and should only be used as a last resort.

Additionally, though minimally invasive procedures are easier for the patient, they’re more difficult for the surgeon. As such, it’s not taught as widely, and there are few doctors who can perform it accurately. Still, talk to your doctor about minimally invasive spine surgery versus traditional back surgery. See if you may be a candidate, and if there’s someone who can perform the procedure for you. The potential benefits make it worth looking into.