Traditional open spine surgeries are performed through a long incision. Over the recent years, a minimally invasive approach has emerged as an alternative to open spine surgery. The main difference between the minimally invasive spine surgery and the traditional spine surgery is the size of the incision and extent of muscle dissection. A traditional spine surgery requires a long incision with an excision of the muscle while a minimally invasive surgery employs smaller incisions and less muscle dissection.
Minimally invasive procedures are performed with the help of an endoscope and small surgical instruments which are passed through the small incisions, to access the spine and perform the surgery. An endoscope has a tiny video camera attached to its end, which illuminates and provides better visualization of the operating area. Segmental, tubular retractors and dilators are used to dilate and retract the muscles and soft tissues to access the spine. After the procedure, the endoscope and the instruments are removed and the incisions are closed.
The advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery over traditional spine surgery include:
- Smaller incisions
- Shorter duration of hospital stay
- Reduced operative time
- Less damage to the surrounding tissues
- Quicker recovery
- Minimal blood loss
- Less scarring
- Quicker return to work and activities
- Minimal post-operative pain
Procedures that may be performed via minimally invasive spine approach include Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF), Anterior and Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF or PLIF) Direct Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (DLIF), Axial Lumbar Interbody Fusion (AxiaLIF), Intradiscal Electrothermal Annuloplasty (IDET), Posterior Cervical Laminectomy and Fusion, Kyphoplasty, and Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF).
Before the surgery your doctor will explain the specific procedure as well as its benefits and risks to you.