Orthopedic & Neurologic Surgery of the Spine
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Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

For most of the history of spinal surgery, it has been open surgery, a lengthy, invasive process that involved opening up the patient to provide a clear view and access to their anatomy. This process has resulted in extended recovery times for patients, as well as unsightly scars that never go away. Recent advances in surgical technology have created a better way, minimally invasive spine surgery. Unlike traditional spinal surgery, MISS avoid damaging the muscles along the spine in addition to the previously mentioned benefits, making it a far superior method for most spinal surgery needs.

The first surgeries to benefit from MISS were surgical decompression and fusion surgeries, and it has been used for those procedures since the 1990’s. Improvements in the intervening decades have resulted in advances that are making this style of procedure available for an increasing range of spinal surgeries. MISS procedures are performed using a special style of tool known as tubular retractors, which create a tunnel through the skin and tissues covering the spine down to the specific area that needs Dr. Peelle’s attention.

The traditional procedures MISS replaces would involve a 5-6 incision along the spine, followed by pulling back the soft-tissues that surround the spine. This retraction often led to damage to those tissues, prolonging recovery time and resulting in additional back pain from before the surgery. In MISS the surgeon uses a fluoroscope to observe the surgical site through the tubular retractors and is able to perform the surgery with only a small opening.

FAQ About Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery:

1. What forms of surgery commonly use minimally invasive spinal surgery?

Two common surgeries that use minimally invasive spinal surgery are lumbar discectomies and lumbar fusion surgeries. Both of these surgeries can take advantage of this technology to improve the recovery time of the patient and limit the amount of damage done in the process of repairing the disc in the spine.

2. What kind of complications can arise from minimally invasive spinal surgery?

As with any surgery, there are certainly opportunities for complications arising from MISS. The possible complications are similar to those with any open surgery done on the spine, but with significantly lower occurrence rates. These complications can include infection, bleeding, pain at the graft site, pseudarthrosis (a condition where there is insufficient bone formation following the surgery), nerve damage, and blood clots. In the event of pseudarthrosis, a second surgery may need to be scheduled to ensure the bone fusion takes.

3. What will my recovery time be like?

Following a minimally invasive spinal surgery, a patient can typically return home after 2 or 3 days of observation. While discomfort cannot be avoided in surgery, the discomfort from a minimally invasive spinal surgery is significantly less than that from a traditional spinal surgery. Additionally, it may take several months before you fusion is solid, and proper movement, repositioning, sitting, standing, and walking methods will help to ensure it passes quickly and comfortably.

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