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Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery: The Basics for Surgeons

It’s been long since spine surgery was performed for the first time, and over the years, new technological advances have made it possible for more spine related conditions to be treated with minimally invasive surgical techniques, which made possible for patients, in a number of ways, a faster recovery and a reduced risk of complications.

Instead of the open incision involved in traditional spinal surgeries, minimally invasive spine surgery, also known as MISS, uses a specialized tool called a tubular retractor in order to reach the precise area to be treated. This hollow tube is inserted through a small incision. The surgeon is able to visualize and access the targeted area while causing less trauma to the surrounding tissue and muscles. Any necessary surgical instruments such as screws or rods can be inserted through the retractor and the entire procedure is guided by fluoroscopy – a type of real-time X-ray that allows the spinal surgeon to meticulously repair and treat the affected area with great precision.

Preoperative planning well done is crucial for this type of surgeries. Did you know that a surgical pre-planning with PeekMed® can save up to 50% of the sterilization costs and reduce surgery time up to 20%?

This type of surgery is only considered if conservative therapies have failed to provide successful outcomes, and only if the surgeon can pinpoint the exact source of your pain, such as herniated disc or spinal stenosis. In some cases, where the exact source of pain can be isolated, the benefits of MISS are substantial.

Not all types of spinal surgery can be performed with minimally invasive techniques.

An experienced spinal specialist should determine the most appropriate type of surgery for its patient needs. The minimally invasive spine surgery treatment may be used to:

Degenerative disc disease – it is used to describe some problematic, age-related changes in the spinal discs.

Herniated discs – Occurs when the outer layer is cracked or otherwise damaged and the soft interior protrudes through the damaged area.

Lumbar spinal stenosis – A condition characterized by a narrowing of the openings in the vertebrae of the lower back (lumbar region), through which the spinal cord and spinal nerves run. This nerves, cause a lot of pain.

Spinal instability – Characterized by an abnormal amount of movement between the vertebrae, often due to disc degeneration.

Vertebral compression fractures – Fractures that occur due to the total or partial collapse of a vertebra. This is most often due to osteoporosis, but a fracture can also result from a hard fall or another traumatic injury.

As a surgeon, you will be able to tell if this type of surgery is the most appropriate for your patient. In some situations, minimally invasive spine surgery may not be as safe or effective as traditional open surgery. If so, never forget to inform your patients about the relative risks and benefits.

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