Advances in spine imaging, such as MRIs, allow our three board-certified orthopedic and neurosurgeons to see smaller and smaller spinal problems. It’s now possible to see individual spinal nerves, bone spurs, and small disc fragments. To keep up with such tiny stuff, spinal surgical techniques have gone small. At Coastal Spine, we use minimally invasive surgical methods whenever possible. Some procedures involve incisions of less than 1 inch.
Since small is big in back surgery, with this scary October blog, let’s get into minimally invasive spinal surgery.
What is minimally invasive spine surgery?
Minimally invasive spine surgery is an alternative to traditional open surgical procedures. An endoscope provides visuals without having to fully open the area. Also, two tubular retractors are used to gain access and reduce soft tissue damage. Minimally invasive methods are used to treat different spinal disorders, such as degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, scoliosis, and spinal stenosis.
What are the benefits to using minimally invasive spine surgery?
There are many potential benefits with this type of surgery. Incisions are incredibly small, making for far easier healing. Methods can eliminate much of the cutting through soft tissues such as ligaments and muscles to reach the spine. This dramatically shortens recovery times. Also, minimally invasive surgery typically opens the door to these procedures being outpatient. And, as you would assume, there is less post-operative pain and recovery is easier and faster.
What are the surgical goals of these procedures?
Whether using open or minimally invasive techniques, our Coastal Spine surgeons have two goals for these surgeries:
#1 Decompression — The goal is to eliminate whatever is pressing on the nerve roots or the spinal cord. This involves removing tissue that is causing the compression. Bone spurs and fragments from herniated discs are prime examples of tissues that need to be removed to free up space around the nerve structures.
#2 Stabilization — Sometimes removing a piece of the vertebra to gain access to the compressed nerve structures can create issues with stability in the area. In most cases, stabilization is gained through fusion of the discs in question.
When would a patient be right for minimally invasive spine surgery?
Any spinal surgery is always the last resort, after conservative measures have not alleviated the patient’s chronic pain. At this point, the pain is directly impacting the patient’s quality of life. Unfortunately, not everyone can have minimally invasive spinal surgery. If a person has unstable medical conditions or has had prior spinal surgery in the same area, they won’t be able to benefit from these methods. And, as you would expect, not all procedures can be handled with these minimally invasive methods.
If you’re suffering from chronic back pain, we can help. Call us at Coastal Spine, (856) 222-4444 and set up a consultation at one of our offices in Mt. Laurel, Sewell, Galloway, Toms River, or West Orange.