What is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery allows for less trauma and damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints as well as the bones of the spine.

The spine is able to be entered through incisions via tubular channels and endoscopes by a camera placed in the tube or with a high-power microscope visualizing directly through the tube.

Furthermore, conditions that cannot always be managed with minimally invasive technique include some cases of severe degenerative facet disease with severe stenosis and scoliosis and the resection of intraspinal tumors.

The necessary incisions tend to be small. For example, one type of minimally invasive spine surgery called balloon kyphoplasty requires only two needle-size incisions. Furthermore, spinal fusion, a condition that previously required 4-6 inch incisions to be made during traditional open spine surgery, can now be treated using ½-1 inch incisions.

Muscle fibers are separated rather than cut and can resume their normal position after the instruments have been removed. This means that the patient experiences less pain and scarring following minimally invasive spine surgery.

A very limited amount of ligament and bone is resected and at times none needs to be removed. The nerves are exposed to very little scarring.

Screws, rods and clamps that require implantation to stabilize and realign the spine can now be inserted through very small incisions via what are referred to as percutaneous approaches.

Damaged discs can be removed through very small openings into the disc, at times percutaneously as well.
Working through these small incisions endoscopes and microscopes can be utilized allowing excellent visualization of nerves, limiting the risk of damage. Interbody devices can then be placed into the disc spaces to maintain the disc space height through these very small openings and can then be expanded within the disc to the desired size.

Artificial discs can be inserted to replace damaged discs via small abdominal incisions precluding any damage to the bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments of the spine.

It is also now possible to remove a damaged disc and replace it with an interbody device through a small incision in the flank, again avoiding any significant damage to the muscles, ligaments and bone of the spine. New intraoperative x-ray imaging can allow for highly precise computer-guided placement of hardware such as pedicle screws into the spine.

These techniques are continuously being refined and new techniques developed.