What is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
Minimally invasive spine surgery generally has the goal of alleviating pain due to compression of spinal nerves, and/or to stabilize weak or damaged spine vertebrae. These kinds of conditions can be the result of degenerative discs, bone spurs, herniated discs, scoliosis, or spinal tumors. Minimally invasive spinal operations aim to solve these while using smaller incisions than typical open spinal surgery. This causes less damage to nearby muscle and tissue and leads to less pain with a faster recovery after the procedure. There are many types of minimally invasive surgeries that use complex tools to achieve the aim of causing as little damage as possible while solving any spinal problems.
Types of Minimally Invasive Back Surgery
There are a wide range of minimally invasive back surgeries which target different parts of the spine, and ultimately look to achieve resolving any existing spinal conditions. Surgeries that can be performed as minimally invasive generally involve the usage of special retractors and a microscope, or an endoscope to perform the operation. The types of spinal surgeries are:
- Discectomy – The removal of part of a herniating disc causing the nerve to be pinched.
- Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion – A variation of a discectomy, the herniated disc is removed through the front of the neck and then a fusion is performed to stabilize the neck.
- Foraminotomy – Widens the foramen, or space where nerve roots leave the spinal canal.
- Laminectomy – Removes the lamina from the effected area of the spine.
- Spinal Fusion – Permanently fuses two vertebrae using a graft and metal plates, screws, and rods.
Minimally Invasive Spinal Stenosis Surgery
The minimally invasive surgery of choice for spinal stenosis is generally the laminotomy, which removes just the portion of lamina causing the nerves to be compressed. Laminectomy can also be performed if the entire lamina needs to be removed to see effective pain relief results. Another spinal stenosis surgery that is useful is called a laminoplasty. The laminoplasty creates a hinge on the lamina, allowing more space for the pinched nerve and giving the patient a resolution to their pain. Metal hardware is applied to the gap created in a laminoplasty.
Herniated Disc Surgeries
One of the surgeries that is used to treat herniated discs is called a microdiscectomy, which uses minimally invasive practices to have the smallest incision possible. In a microdiscectomy the surgeon makes a 1 inch incision over the affected disc, and using a lighted microscope as a guide they remove a small portion of the herniating disc to relieve pressure on the nerve. The benefits are that the patient has a faster recovery process and they can usually be discharged the same day or next morning. If it’s needed a spinal fusion can also be performed to stabilize the spine in the case of a herniating disc. Spinal fusion requires at least a few days of hospital stay and has a longer recovery period.
Endoscopic spinal surgery involves the use of an endoscope to guide the surgeon at the area of concern. A micro sized cut less than an inch long is made to insert a tubular system which surgical tools can be fed through in conjunction with an endoscope. An endoscope is a flexible tube with a camera and light that allows your surgeon to see within the body. They are widely used in many types of surgeries or to examine any problem areas within the body. Endoscopic surgery for the spine utilizes these advanced tools so that the patient can recover quickly and have less recurring pain. Some patients may also only need regional anesthesia rather than general anesthesia, which further reduces the surgical risks involved.
What Does Non-Invasive Procedure Mean?
Non-invasive means the procedure doesn’t require cutting into the body or the remove of tissue. Such treatments would typically come before surgery, or as part of the rehabilitation process after surgery like chiropractic manipulation, physical therapy, and heat therapy. Various diagnostic scans are also non-invasive procedures like X-Rays, CT Scans, open MRI and ultra sounds. Physical therapy is one of the most crucial parts of any spinal recovery process, as it strengthens the muscle around your spine stabilizing it while also making you more flexible to avoid further back pain. You’ll work with a therapist specializing in spine rehabilitation and recovery.
Invasive vs Non-Invasive Procedures
Invasive generally requires a large incision so that the area being operated on can be opened up and the surgeon can visually see the targeted area. As you can imagine this takes much longer to heal, and recovery time can be several months, and a return to normal activities being up to a year. That’s why when a minimally invasive surgery option is available it’s preferred most of the time. You should consult with your doctor about minimally invasive procedures if you’ve been recommended for surgery. There are also the non-invasive spinal procedures as well which might be able to help. Injections like facet joint injections, PRP therapy, and epidural injections don’t require any cutting and can manage pain while the patient undergoes physical therapy to resolve the issue. Another non-invasive operation is the laser spine surgery, which only requires a needle insertion with a laser being fed through the thin needle.
Minimally Invasive Surgery Recovery Times
The recovery time for minimally invasive surgery is fast as compared to open procedures. Some procedures can be performed as an outpatient surgery, which means you can be discharged the same day of the surgery. Surgeries that can be performed outpatient include microdiscectomy, laser spine surgery, and endoscopic spinal surgeries. Full return to normal activities can happen in approximately six weeks. During the first weeks of recovery though, patients shouldn’t undergo any rigorous activity and should be guided by your surgeon as to what physical activity you should do throughout the recovery process.
As you can see there are many benefits of minimally invasive surgeries as well as non-invasive procedures. So if you’re suffering from back pain or neck pain you can check with one of our top spine surgeons in the Atlanta area to see if you’re eligible for treatment. Back pain can be difficult to live with, particularly if it’s effecting your quality of life. You can call AllSpine at 770-997-0600 to schedule an appointment today.