Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery: What You Need to Know

Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) is a type of surgery that uses small incisions on the bones of your spine. MISS utilizes smaller incisions than standard surgery and therefore causes less harm to the muscles and tissues neighboring your spinal column.

If you want to carry out further research, read more about minimally invasive spine surgeries here.

The MISS procedure leads to a faster recovery and less pain after surgery. The procedure is used in various situations e.g. for patients who require a laminectomy, spinal fusion, and lumbar discectomy. This post will highlight some of the things you need to know about MISS.

When Is Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery Necessary?

Not every person with back pain is a suitable candidate for MISS. Your doctor is likely to suggest MISS if you have a back problem that has resisted less radical forms of treatment like medication and physical therapy.

If your back pain resists treatment, your doctor may recommend MISS if you suffer from any of these conditions: fractured vertebrae, herniated disc, spondylolysis, spinal instability, spinal stenosis, spinal deformities, removal of a tumor in the spine, and infection in the spine.

What Are the Risks of Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery?

All surgical procedures have accompanying risks. The risk posed by MISS differs amongst patients depending on their age and health. It is advisable to have your MISS procedure performed at a well-equipped hospital with experienced doctors to mitigate the risks.

The general risks posed by MISS include excess bleeding, infection, nerve damage, blood clots, pain at the graft site, leaking of spinal fluid, and complications from anesthesia administered. It is essential to ask your doctor which risks apply specifically to you.

How Do I Prepare for Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery?

Your doctor will have a discussion with you on how to prepare for your MISS procedure. The doctor will enquire about any medication you are currently taking and any lifestyle habits that may affect the MISS procedure e.g. smoking. Your doctor will inform you about any medications you need to stop taking e.g. blood thinners like aspirin and also instruct you to stop habits like smoking which is likely to delay your healing.

You may have to undergo routine procedures before being cleared for the MISS procedure, e.g., X-rays or MRI(magnetic resonance imaging). Your doctor will also instruct you not to eat or drink for a specific amount of time before your MISS procedure.

What Is the Procedure for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

MISS procedures are carried out by an orthopedic surgeon and trained medical staff. The procedure for MISS varies depending on the part of the spine being treated amongst other factors. Feel free to ask your doctor about the technical details of the particular MISS procedure you will be undergoing.

Patients can either be given anesthesia which numbs parts of their body, or sedation that keeps them awake and relaxed during the surgery. You could also be given general anesthesia. This prevents pain and causes you to sleep or be awake and comfortable during the surgery. Ask your doctor the kind of anesthesia you will receive for your MISS procedure.

Your surgeon will make a small incision and insert a tubular retractor (a stiff tube-shaped tool) that creates a tunnel to the area of your spine that has a problem. The tubular retractor gently pushes muscle and soft tissue around the area away. Your surgeon then uses the tunnel to put small tools, e.g., an operating microscope and light, through the tunnel when working on the spine.

After the orthopedic surgeon has finished the procedure, they will remove the tools and retractor. The incision or incisions made are then closed with glue, stitches, or staples. The wound in the incision site is then covered with a bandage.

What Happens After Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

Depending on the type of MISS surgery you had, you may be discharged from the hospital on the same day or required to stay hospitalized for observation. Patients usually experience some pain that goes away fairly quickly. Your doctor will prescribe painkillers if the pain is severe and does not go away soon.

If a small number of liquid leaks from your incision, do not worry, as this is normal. Contact your doctor if the number of fluid increases or you suffer other side effects like severe headaches, trouble breathing,  fever, or severe pain at the incision site. Your doctor will instruct you on how soon after MISS you can use your back and whether you need a back brace or physical therapy.