Why Many Patients Seek A Minimally Invasive Alternative To Open Back Surgery

Submitted by: J Soland

Many patients decide to explore the prospect of undergoing a minimally invasive spine surgery when they suffer from a degenerative spine condition and have been unable to find relief with conservative treatments. This type of procedure is a safer, more effective alternative to open back surgery like spinal fusion. A spinal fusion is a highly invasive procedure that involves hospitalization, a large incision, dissection of musculature and soft tissues, and the excision of significant portion of the spinal anatomy. A bone graft and stabilizing hardware is also necessary to facilitate the fusion of the vertebrae and secure them in place. As you can imagine, this type of surgery involves a fairly lengthy and arduous recovery process. After remaining in the hospital for several days following the procedure, spinal fusion patients may be looking at up to a year of rehabilitation.

The Benefits of a Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Minimally invasive surgery offers a variety of benefits over a traditional spinal fusion surgery. Minimally invasive surgery is an outpatient procedure, which means that no hospitalization is involved. Most patients are able to walk and return home the day of surgery. Other benefits include:

Only an extremely small incision is required (usually less than one inch in length)

Muscles, ligaments, and tendons are moved aside, not cut

A larger portion of the spinal anatomy is left intact


Many minimally invasive surgeries do not require the implantation of a bone graft or hardware

There is less risk of infection, nerve damage, and scar tissue formation

The risk of developing failed back surgery syndrome is significantly lower

Patients enjoy a faster, less painful recovery

Conditions Treated

A variety of conditions may be treated with minimally invasive spine surgery. Primarily, patients with mild to moderate degenerative conditions make the best candidates for this type of procedure. Some of the conditions commonly treated with minimally invasive spine surgery include herniated discs, bulging discs, spinal stenosis, bone spurs, and spondylolisthesis. Some types of procedures are also aimed at conditions that involve structural problems within the spine like scoliosis, vertebral fractures, and pars defects. Minimally invasive spine surgeries are primarily considered nerve decompression procedures because many of the above procedures cause radiculopathy (compression of or damage to spinal nerve root) or myelopathy (compression of the spinal cord due to an anatomical abnormality within the spine).

Types of Procedures

Minimally invasive spine surgeries can take many forms. Some of the most common procedures include:

Percutaneous discectomy This procedure aims to remove a portion of an intervertebral disc that is herniated or bulging and pressing on spinal nerve root or the spinal cord.

Laminotomy During this procedure, a portion of the lamina (a thin, bony plate that forms a roof over the spinal cord) is removed to make room for neural structures.

Foraminotomy This type of procedure widens one or more foramen, which is the open passageway on either side of vertebrae through which spinal nerves pass. The area is debrided and cleared of any bone or tissue material that may have been causing compression of spinal nerve roots.

Facet thermal ablation During this procedure, a heat source is used to deaden or desensitize the local nerves that are located inside of the spine s facet joints that may be compressed due to spinal arthritis or the formation of bone spurs.

Other Alternatives to Surgery

Regardless of whether you are considering open spine surgery or a minimally invasive surgery, remember that any type of surgery should be considered a last resort treatment option. While outpatient procedures like those listed above present fewer risks than open spine surgery, they still involve their own sets of risks and benefits that should be weighed carefully before a decision is made. If you suffer from a degenerative spine condition but feel you are not ready for surgery of any kind, talk to your doctor about other conservative therapies that may offer you relief. Stem cell therapy, prolotherapy, cortisone injections, nerve block injections, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may all be viable options.

About the Author: John Soland is an experienced writer who has written for a number of notable publications. As a lifestyle expert, Mr. Soland is able to offer advice and insight on a multitude of topics, including those pertaining to

endoscopic surgery




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