Minimally invasive surgery to treat spinal narrowing
Surgery to treat symptoms related to spinal narrowing, called spinal stenosis, is usually considered when conservative therapies have been exhausted without a return to normal activity. This is because traditional open spine surgery is such an invasive process, requiring hospitalization and a long recovery period to fully heal from the large muscle-tearing incision required.
What many doctors and patients aren’t aware of however is that advances in surgical technology and technique have allowed for the development of a minimally invasive approach to spine surgery. If you are considering surgery but have reservations about the prospect of an inpatient traditional open spine procedure, learning more about minimally invasive surgery for spinal narrowing may be able to help you get back to the active lifestyle you’ve been missing.
Advantages of minimally invasive surgery
The goal of spine surgery is to decompress nerves affected by spinal narrowing. For a long time the only way to do this was by using a relatively long incision to open up a segment of the neck or back to remove the anatomy putting pressure on the nerve, like herniated disc material or a bone spur. Larger incisions require cutting of important supporting muscles and connective tissue, which is what leads to many of the risks and difficulties of traditional procedures. This includes blood loss, an extended hospital stay, risk of infection, scarring and the potential for pain during the recovery period.
Minimally invasive spinal narrowing surgery is possible because of direct viewing technology and other advances that make it possible to access the spine with a smaller, muscle-sparing incision. At Laser Spine Institute, our board-certified surgeons+ can use a less than 1-inch incision to decompress nerves affected by spinal narrowing. This less invasive approach offers the following advantages:
- Can be performed as an outpatient procedure
- Less risk of infection
- Less risk of complications like failed back surgery syndrome and scarring
- A shorter recovery period^
Due to the differences in patients and individual spine conditions, not every person is a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery. However, if you have been recommended for surgery it is important to find out if this alternative is one that could benefit you.