When considering surgery as an option for successfully treating a back condition, it is important to understand the differences between surgeries to determine what option is best for you. Typically, surgery is only reserved for when conservative methods of treatment—such as medication or physical therapy—have failed to provide relief from pain and other symptoms.
Traditional surgery is as you may picture it: a standard, long incision made in the back to grant the surgeon visual and physical access to the anatomy of the spine. During that time, muscles and nerves are pulled aside to allow the surgeon to perform the procedure.
In comparison, minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) involves the use of specialized instruments and techniques resulting in smaller incisions without disruption of vital muscle and tendinous structures.
Types of Minimally Invasive Surgery
Over the past decade or so, many types of MISS have been developed to provide those who qualify an alternative to the longer recovery of standard surgery. Types of MISS include:
- Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion: This is where a portion or all of a spinal disc (the cushiony discs between the vertebrae) is removed via needle to relieve pressure on impinged (pinched) nerves
- Fusion: Fusion surgeries permanently connect two or more vertebrae together to provide stability and limit pain-inducing movement. Fusion surgeries vary by entry point and what they’re designed to treat
- Laminectomy: Also known as decompression surgery, laminectomy is a procedure performed to reduce pressure on the spinal cord or nerves by removing the portion of the spine called the lamina
- Laminoplasty: This procedure relieves pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots by removing sources of compression, such as bone spurs. It aids in treating a number of spinal conditions, including cervical spondylotic myelopathy, spinal stenosis or spinal tumors
- Microdiscectomy: Also known as a microdecompression, a microdiscectomy removes the spinal disc material causing nerve impingement
- Scoliosis fusion surgery: This procedure corrects the curvature of the spine caused by disc degeneration
What Are the Benefits of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
Making use of the innovative advances in surgical technology, MISS avoids undue injury to the tissue surrounding the affected area of the spine. Other advantages to MISS (in comparison to traditional surgery) include:
- Lower chance of scarring due to smaller incisions
- Less post-operative pain because there is less affected tissue
- Quicker recovery due to smaller incisions, resulting in shorter hospitalization
- Reduced blood loss during surgery
- Reduced risk of complications from general anesthesia since it’s performed on an outpatient basis and may use local anesthetic
- Reduced risk of infection because the inside of the body is exposed to less outside elements
- Reduced risk of muscle damage since little to no muscle cutting is required
How Do I Know If I Qualify for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
As we discussed, MISS is based on individual needs and only for those who meet certain criteria. Whether or not you meet the criteria can only be determined by a surgeon with extensive knowledge on MISS procedures.
Dr. Sandro LaRocca, Founder of New Jersey Neck & Back Institute P.C., has years of highly specialized training and experience in minimally invasive procedures. Dr. LaRocca and his staff are dedicated to providing patients with compassionate, individualized care for all types of orthopaedic and neurosurgical spinal conditions.
For more information on minimally invasive procedure or to schedule a consultation with Dr. LaRocca, contact New Jersey Neck & Back Institute today or fill out our contact form.