A minimally invasive spine procedure may be necessary if patients have not experienced lasting pain relief from over-the-counter medication and physical therapy. Patients should speak to their orthopedic physician to find out if minimally invasive surgery is an option for them.
Some minimally invasive spine procedures are both minimally invasive and minimally impacting (meaning minimal postoperative pain), while others may only be minimally invasive in terms of how small the incision is. When considering minimally invasive spine surgery, it’s important to find out if the physician will be fusing the spine and installing hardware, as this could indicate a greater risk of pain and a longer recovery process.
In contrast to traditional open surgery, minimally invasive surgery offers many benefits, which include:
Minimally invasive surgery is commonly used to:
Minimally invasive laser spine surgery may be necessary if the patient can answer “yes” to one or more of the following questions:
Endoscopic minimally invasive spine surgery involves using an endoscope, which is a flexible tube with a camera on the end, to examine organs, and remove tissue samples for biopsy.
Depending on the patient’s condition, the physician may recommend a decompression procedure to help relieve nerve pressure. A few types of decompression procedures include discectomies, foraminotomies, and laminotomies.
During a discectomy, the surgeon removes a portion of the damaged spinal disc. During a foraminotomy, the surgeon removes structures in the spine to increase space around the nerves.
Patients suffering from arthritis may benefit from a facet thermal ablation, which is a type of minimally invasive surgery that involves using a laser to deaden nerves and eliminate arthritis affecting the facet joints in the affected area of the spine.
Patients with a severely damaged disc may need stabilization surgery, which often means fusion surgery. Minimally invasive stabilization surgery is an alternative to traditional open fusion surgery and involves making smaller incisions that allow the physician to move (but not cut) surrounding muscles, remove the damaged disc, and replace it with an artificial disc.
After surgery, patients need to be extra careful with their movements to ensure the spine heals properly and the muscles fully recover. Some patients will also need physical therapy to help recondition the soft tissue.
Patients will receive specific instructions regarding activities like bathing, exercising, and returning to work. After minimally invasive surgery, patients typically won’t need to take pain medication for an extended period of time, helping to reduce the risk of opioid addiction.