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Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

What is minimally invasive spine surgery?

Minimally invasive spine surgery is the ability to surgically treat spinal conditions with minimal tissue invasion, i.e., minimal trauma. It relies on special instruments that allow surgery to be performed with small incisions to avoid or reduce trauma to surrounding muscles and soft tissues. This translates into faster and safer surgery, less pain and quicker return to daily life. Some surgeries can be performed as outpatient procedures using only local anesthetic thereby reducing adverse anesthesia risks.Minimally invasive spine surgery has undergone significant development with significant advancement in technology and technical skills over the past two decades. Minimally invasive spine surgery limits complications and improves outcomes.

Minimally invasive spine surgery is technically challenging requiring a highly trained and skilled surgeon and careful patient selection. Suitability for each use of minimally invasive spine surgery is determined by the diagnosis that may require a traditional approach, and patient factors such as overall health, and comorbid conditions.

What are the patient benefits?

  • better cosmetic results
  • less pain after surgery
  • reduced blood loss
  • less muscle and soft tissue damage with less cutting
  • reduced risk of infection
  • decreased operative time
  • improved post-operative outcomes
  • lower surgical revision rates

What are the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery?

  • Smaller incisions – Arthroscopic surgery requires only several small incisions. One is for the access needed to insert a thin, lighted, flexible fiberoptic tube called an endoscope. An endoscope has at its end a tiny camera that projects live images of the surgical target on a monitor in the OR. Another small incision is needed to insert tiny surgical tools for treatment. This compared to open surgery which often requires large incisions to access and treat the condition which lengthens operative time.
  • Less blood loss – Smaller incisions also mean less blood loss and shorter operative time. Blood loss is a risk of any surgery and minimally invasive surgery reduces that risk. Open surgery allows the surgeon direct access to the area but requires significant manipulation or cutting of soft tissues including ligaments, muscles, and tendons to access the spine, a joint or other surgical target to gain direct visualization. This generates significant blood loss. In addition, it causes injury to surrounding tissues which contributes to a longer recovery period and increased risk of complications.
  • Direct visualization – Arthroscopy is beneficial for diagnosis and treatment because it gives the surgeon direct visualization of the structures inside of a joint or the spine for diagnosis and treatment without the need for large incisions and manipulation of soft tissues which contribute to longer recovery times.

Smaller incisions, less blood loss, less tissue manipulation, improved safety, improved outcomes, and faster recovery is documented in every study regarding minimally invasive spine surgery.

What is the goal of minimally invasive spine surgery?

The goal of minimally invasive spine surgery is to stabilize the spine and spinal joints, and to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves caused by spinal instability, bone spurs, herniated discs, and spinal tumors. Minimally invasive spine surgery requires advanced training and experience.

Which spine conditions can be treated with minimally invasive spine surgery?

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • herniated discs
  • lumbar spinal stenosis
  • some spinal deformities
  • spinal infections
  • spinal instability
  • vertebral compression fractures
  • spinal tumors

What are the risks of minimally invasive spine surgery?

The risks of any surgical procedure, including minimally invasive spine surgery, involve excessive blood loss, localized infection, and possible adverse reaction to anesthesia. There is a small risk that minimally invasive spine surgery may need to be converted to an open procedure. Also, in some instances minimally invasive spine surgery may not be a good option for some patients.

Dr. Federico Girardi specializes in the surgical treatment of spine disorders and has extensive experience in minimally invasive spine surgery. Dr. Girardi is internationally renowned, trains spine surgeons world-wide in advanced surgical skills including minimally invasive spine surgery and has extensive clinical research experience.

Contact his office to schedule a consultation at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in Manhattan. HSS is the number one US hospital in Orthopedics.

At a Glance

Dr. Federico Girardi MD

  • Triple fellowship-trained spinal surgeon
  • Performs over 400 spinal surgeries per year
  • Professor of orthopedic surgery at Cornell University
  • Learn more

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