Some spine surgeries can be done using traditional techniques or newer, minimally invasive procedures. Some conditions for which minimally invasive surgery is often effective, include herniated discs and spinal stenosis. When you need spine surgery – when your pain has not responded to physical therapy, pain medications, and other nonsurgical treatments – minimally invasive surgery offers some distinct advantages over open surgery.

Minimally invasive surgery involves tiny incisions through which a small camera and surgical instruments are inserted. The spine surgeon can then use the camera to see the area while performing various procedures such as spinal decompression or spinal fusions. By contrast, open surgery requires much larger incisions (about six inches long) and a more invasive technique including moving muscles to view the spine.

The benefits

Whenever you can have a minimally invasive procedure instead of a traditional one, you’ll benefit from physical and cosmetic advantages as well as a shorter recovery time. Consider these perks:

  1. Less pain. Open spine surgery can lead to significant pain during recovery because of the larger incision. Minimally invasive procedures and their smaller incisions almost always result in less discomfort after surgery and shorter hospital stays. A more comfortable recovery can also mean that fewer painkillers will be needed.
  2. A shorter recovery period. Traditional surgeries typically take longer to recover from, particularly if any surrounding muscles were damaged. Minimally invasive procedures, on the other hand, result in smaller incisions and involve the surrounding muscle and soft tissue less, leading to shorter recovery times.
  3. A lower risk of complications. Open surgeries require longer incisions to access the affected area, and this raises the potential for complications. The tiny incisions used for minimally invasive procedures present a much lower risk for infections, excessive bleeding, and other complications.

Traditional surgical techniques are much more invasive and often involve moving muscles to complete the procedure. This increases the likelihood of damage to the tissues and more pain during recovery. Because minimally invasive procedures do not involve pulling muscles aside and comprise smaller incisions, they tend to result in fewer complications, shorter recovery times, and less pain.

What to consider

It’s easy to see why minimally invasive surgical techniques are advantageous over traditional surgeries, but there are several factors to consider when deciding on the best procedure for you. Minimally invasive procedures are not suitable for all people or all conditions. Some conditions, such as severe scoliosis or spinal tumors, require open surgery.

It’s also important to note that minimally invasive surgery is not entirely without risk. Any operation has the potential to cause complications such as bleeding, infection, nerve damage, and blood clots, although these are rare with minimally invasive techniques. Your neurosurgeon will discuss these risks as well as how to choose the right procedure for your condition with you before scheduling your surgery. To learn more about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Patrick Senatus today.