Surgery for certain spinal conditions can be done using traditional, open procedures or minimally invasive techniques.
Spinal stenosis, herniated discs, and other spinal conditions can cause persistent or severe pain that does not respond to medication, physical therapy, or other nonsurgical forms of treatment. When this happens, your neurosurgeon may recommend traditional or minimally invasive spine surgery. Minimally invasive procedures offer a few advantages compared to traditional, open surgery, if you qualify for this type of procedure.
What Is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
Minimally invasive spine surgery involves the use of smaller incisions through which tiny surgical instruments and a camera are lowered. The camera allows your spine surgeon to view the affected area while using the instruments to perform different procedures, such as spinal fusions or spinal decompression. In an open surgery, your surgeon would make an incision about 6 inches long and move the muscles in order to see the spine. One of the downsides to traditional, open surgery is that the pulling or “retraction” of the muscle can sometimes strain soft muscle tissue.
What Are the Benefits of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
There are physical, cosmetic, and recovery advantages when you elect to have minimally invasive spine surgery:
- Lower risk of complications. Traditional spinal surgery involves making a long incision in order to access the affected area of the spine, which results in a higher risk of complications. Minimally invasive procedures only use a few tiny incisions, which leads to a lower risk of excessive bleeding, infections at the surgical site, and other complications.
- Lower risk of muscle damage. Open surgery involves pulling muscles in the affected area aside while the procedure is done. This can result in muscle and soft tissue damage and a greater amount of pain after surgery. Minimally invasive procedures do not require muscles to be pulled aside to the same degree, leading to a lower risk of damage to the soft tissue around the surgical site.
- Less pain. Traditional spinal surgery can cause a considerable amount of discomfort afterwards due to the larger incision that needs to be made. Minimally invasive spinal procedures typically result in less pain and discomfort after surgery, which can lead to shorter hospital stays. Experiencing less pain can also reduce the amount of painkillers that are needed after surgery.
- Faster recovery time. Open surgery usually results in longer recovery times, especially if muscles in the surrounding area were damaged during the procedure. Minimally invasive techniques usually have shorter recovery times due to the use of small incisions that do not affect the surrounding muscles and soft tissue as much.
Important Factors to Consider
While minimally invasive surgery for spinal conditions have important benefits, there are certain factors to keep in mind when considering this type of procedure. Minimally invasive procedures are not suitable for all types of spinal conditions or all types of people. Certain conditions, such as spinal tumors or severe scoliosis, require open surgery instead. Your neurosurgeon will recommend the most suitable type of surgery for your spine condition based on your diagnosis. To be eligible for minimally invasive spinal surgery, you cannot have a spinal defect, severe deformity, or have had a previous spinal surgery.
It is also important to note that minimally invasive back procedures do carry a risk of complications, although they are not common. These include infections, bleeding, nerve damage, and blood clots. Surgeons take special precautions to lower the risk of these complications, such as giving patients antibiotics to ward off infections. Some patients continue to experience symptoms of their spinal condition after surgery, but this is also not common.
If you want to know more about how the advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Arkansas Surgical Hospital at 877-918-7020 for an appointment. Our neurosurgeons will evaluate your condition and recommend the most effective surgical treatment.