It is a common misconception that spinal surgeons want to perform surgery on their patients. In reality, doctors who specialize in spinal procedures generally prefer to see their patients respond well to conservative, non-surgical modalities. It is only when these treatments do not improve the situation or when an injury is too severe for nonsurgical therapies that a spine surgeon must intervene. When intervention is necessary, the approach is as minimally-invasive as possible. Here, we discuss common questions about minimally-invasive spine surgery.
How does minimally invasive spine surgery differ from conventional surgery?
Historically, spine surgeries were performed through a long incision. Procedures cut through muscle tissue, as well, to access the affected part of the spine. Minimally-invasive spinal procedures are performed through multiple small incisions. Small instruments may be inserted through various incisions, requiring less disruption to muscles. Using a minimally-invasive technique, a surgeon can gently separate the muscles rather than cut them. The benefit is less bleeding during and after surgery and a shorter recovery.
Is minimally-invasive spine surgery an option for all spine problems?
Doctors use minimally-invasive techniques whenever possible. This may be an option for the treatment of several conditions, including sciatica, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis. Minimally-invasive techniques can be included in procedures like laminotomies, laminectomies, microdiscectomies, and more. A doctor makes this determination after a thorough consultation and examination.
Is it necessary to stay in the hospital after minimally-invasive spine surgery?
At this time, spinal surgeries still require a short hospital stay. Patients who undergo minimally-invasive procedures may leave the hospital in two to three days. However, it is necessary to understand that every situation is unique. Hospitalization may be extended for some patients.
Do I still need physical therapy after minimally-invasive spine surgery?
Spinal surgery is spinal surgery regardless of how long incisions are. Patients who are good candidates for a minimally-invasive procedure should expect to complete a prescribed physical therapy program. This rehabilitation restores mobility and flexibility that may have been diminished not by the surgery itself but by the original injury.