The Benefits of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Traditional open surgery uses a large incision through which a surgeon accesses your spine or other organs for repair. The incision must be at least 5-6 inches long because your surgeon needs to cut into and pull aside muscle that’s obscuring the area they’re going to treat. 

Retracting the muscle is extremely traumatic and damaging. The muscle tissue may take a long time to heal. It also may not heal properly or regain its former strength.

In contrast, minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) requires only a series of smaller incisions that don’t cut into muscle at all. To operate, your surgeon inserts a tiny camera through one of the incisions and miniature instruments into the others. 

Jocelyn R. Idema, DO, is an expert at various intricate MISS techniques, including lumbar disc replacements. If you book minimally invasive spinal surgery with us at Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center, here’s what you can expect.

You may not need a hospital

Depending on the procedure you need, Dr. Idema may be able to perform the MISS on an outpatient basis. Because the surgery uses small incisions, you may not need general anesthesia. 

Instead, our team gives you local anesthesia, which numbs the operative area but allows you to stay conscious.

The operation itself is simpler and safer than open surgery. With MISS, there’s:

Dr. Idema lets you know ahead of time if your MISS is appropriate as an outpatient procedure or if you need a brief hospital stay. If you have a complicated case, she may need to switch to an open surgical approach.

Your incisions are much smaller

With traditional open surgery, Dr. Idema must make a large incision to reach your disks or other areas of your spine. For MISS, she keeps most of your incisions to one inch or less.

She uses fluoroscopic (i.e., X-ray) guidance so that she can see the operation area without opening you up or cutting through muscle. She threads a small camera through one of the incisions, which transmits a magnified, 3D real-time image to a monitor.

She then inserts miniature operative tools into the other incisions so she can access the needed area directly. This approach allows her to make small repairs and modifications, so she doesn’t have to disturb surrounding tissue.

Your recovery is faster

With smaller incisions, less blood loss, and no muscle cutting, recovery from MISS is much faster than it would be from traditional open surgery. Your muscles aren’t damaged, so they don’t need to repair themselves.

If your MISS requires a hospital stay, it’s only for a day or two, in contrast to the 3-5 days needed before you’re discharged after open surgery. You should also have less pain with MISS than with open surgery. 

Your mobility is better

Dr. Idema often recommends MISS instead of traditional spinal surgeries, such as spinal fusion. In a spinal fusion, your doctor fuses vertebral discs together so they don’t move and press against tender nerves. But that approach limits your spine’s flexibility.

With MISS, Dr. Idema removes excess bone and tissue that’s impinging on your nerve. She can even do a total disc replacement with MISS. She’s one of just a handful of surgeons who specialize in advanced motion preservation techniques, including for lumbar disc replacements.

To find out if your back pain is a candidate for relief with MISS, contact us today. We have locations in Pittsburgh, McKees Rocks, and Washington, Pennsylvania.

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