Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery
Description of Spinal Surgery
Minimally invasive spinal surgery does not apply to any one particular type of surgery. The goal of this type of spinal surgery is to achieve the same effect as with traditional surgery, but to do so through small incisions. This also involves less trauma to muscles. Surgery is sometimes done through small tubes. There are minimally invasive techniques for several spinal surgeries, including discectomy and fusion. However, this method cannot be applied to all patients. Often, a minimally invasive method of placing pedicle screws and rods is combined with a traditional fusion.
Conditions Treated With Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery
Minimally invasive surgery techniques include a variety of different surgery types and are sometimes used in conjunction with other spinal surgery procedures to treat spondylolisthesis, herniated disc, degenerated disc and possibly other conditions.
What to Expect Before Spinal Surgery
Once you have decided to have spinal surgery, the following events take place:
- A medical examination.
- Chest x-ray, EKG and blood work.
- You may be asked to have a neurological or psychological examination.
- If taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications daily, stop these medications at least one week before surgery.
- If you take prescription medications or other drugs, including herbals, ask your doctor how soon before surgery you should stop taking these.
- Do not have anything to eat or drink for 6 to 8 hours before surgery.
- You will check into the hospital the morning of surgery.
- Prior to surgery, you will be asked to sign permits for surgery, anesthesia, blood and blood products.
What to Expect During Spinal Surgery
(There are many types of minimally invasive surgery, described below is one of the techniques for placing pedicle screws and rods.)
- Several small incisions are made in the low back area.
- Fluoroscopy, a method used to make images, is used to determine the correct level(s) to be operated.
- A tube is gently passed through the muscles toward the spine.
Pedicle screws are placed through the tube and into the vertebral body.
- This process is repeated until all the screws (usually two or three on one side of the spine) are placed.
- The screws are connected with a rod.
- The screw placement and rod placement procedure will be completed on the other side of the spine.
- Surgery takes approximately 1-3 hours.
What to Expect After Spinal Surgery
- You will be in the recovery room from 1 to 1½ hours.
- The surgeon will contact your family while you are in recovery.
- After going to a hospital room, you will be able to use a PCA pump to get medication for pain control. This machine controls the amount of medication that can be received.
- Staff will usually get you out of bed shortly after surgery.
- The hospital stay is usually 1-3 days (tends to be 1-2 days if only a minimally invasive procedure is done).
- A brace or corset is usually prescribed.
- You will be given any needed prescriptions and discharge instructions.
- A set of exercises that you can do at home will be provided.
- You will be able to ride in a car or plane upon leaving the hospital.
- Physical therapy is usually initiated after the first office visit with your doctor following surgery.
Recovery from minimally invasive spinal surgery varies greatly among patients and is dependent on the exact type of spinal surgery as well as the age and health of the individual. Return to work also varies greatly among patients and is related to overall health and the type of work you do.