Back pain remains one of the most common types of chronic pain in the US; with severity ranging from a slight nuisance to drastically affecting your day-to-day living, it’s crucial to know when it’s time to consult a surgeon, and if spinal surgery is the next step.
For most acute and chronic back pain, your first treatment options will be one of the following: conservative, non-surgical treatments or lifestyle changes. Most pain subsides over the course of a few weeks; however, certain spinal conditions can cause back pain that is too severe or constant to be controlled by non-surgical treatments alone. If you’ve been experiencing symptoms for extended periods of time, consult with a specialist at Beacon Orthopaedics about your treatment options, and see if you’re a candidate for open surgery or minimally invasive surgery.
While there are benefits to both open surgery and minimally invasive methods, we will explore the continuous benefit to undergoing minimally invasive spinal surgery in this article. If you have any of the spinal conditions listed below, please contact Dr. Ian Rodway to set up an appointment immediately.
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
Minimally invasive surgery, like traditional open procedures, is intended to decompress (take pressure off) the spine and stabilize the vertebral bones in order for the patient to resume normal, pain-free activities. However, unlike traditional open procedures, the surgeon does not have to cut or move muscles in order to access the spinal nerves, vertebrae and discs located deep inside the body. Minimally invasive procedures utilize an endoscope—a slender and tubular instrument—and a microscopic camera to look deep into the patient’s body.
Benefits of Minimally Invasive Surgery:
- Smaller skin incisions
- Less scarring
- Reduced muscle trauma
- Less blood loss from surgery
- Reduced post-operative pain
- Reduced risk of infection
- Faster recovery and less rehabilitation
How Is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Performed?
First, a surgeon makes a small incision, which can be a small as 2cm, and inserts a tubular retractor. The retractor allows the surgeon to grasp and hold back tissue in order to create a path to the spine. The center of the retractor also allows the surgeon to insert the instruments they need to operate.
An endoscope or surgical microscope is used to help visualize the area. At the same time, a microscopic camera feeds a real-time view of the patient’s spine to a nearby monitor.
At the end of the procedure, the retractor is removed and the incision is closed.
Depending on the exact cause of the patient’s pain, the surgeon may utilize a number of different treatment methods. The most common minimally invasive procedures for back pain include:
A discectomy is performed in order to trim or remove material from a herniated disc that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord. Specifically, microdiscectomy (also called a microdecompression) and endoscopic discectomy are the two most common types of lumbar discectomy performed in an outpatient setting.
Formaninotomy is performed in order to widen the opening in a patient’s back where nerve roots leave the spinal canal.
Laminotomy and Laminectomy
In order to perform a discectomy or formaninotomy, the surgeon may also need to remove the lamina in order to make room. The lamina is a bony structure which exists in pairs on each vertebra. While the structure protects the spinal cord, it can also contribute to the pain experienced due to a herniated disc. A laminotomy is performed to remove a portion of the lamina. Conversely, a laminectomy is the complete removal of the lamina.
Conditions Treated Using Minimally Invasive Surgery
Degenerative Disc Disease
As the body ages, a number of changes naturally occur within the spine including the loss of fluid in discs, the narrowing of the spinal canal and the growth of bone spurs.
A herniated disc, also called a slipped disc or ruptured disc, occurs when one of soft, jell-like discs between vertebrae moves out of position and presses on nerves. Learn more about herniated discs.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
The spinal cord runs through the open space that is located in the center of the spinal canal. Lumbar spinal stenosis occurs when the hollow region of the spinal canal compresses, putting pressure on the spinal cord and its nerves. Learn more about lumbar spinal stenosis.
Vertebral Compression Fractures
Vertebral compression fractures occur when the vertebral body in the spine collapses. These types of fractures are most common in patients with osteoporosis; however, trauma and metastatic tumors can also contribute to the condition.
Other conditions treated by minimally invasive surgery include:
- Spinal deformities
- Spinal infections
- Spinal tumors
- Spinal instability
Candidates for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
In general, surgery is often reserved for patients who have severe pain that inhibit daily activities such as getting out of bed; standing up and sitting down; and walking up and down stairs. Most often, surgery is recommended only after the patient has tried conservative treatments—such as a heat therapy and physical therapy—and was unable to achieve relief. Good candidates for minimally invasive procedures need to be a healthy weight and generally healthy. Excessive weight, age and overall poor health can sometimes eliminate a patient from becoming a candidate for minimally invasive surgery.
Talk to an Orthopaedic Specialist
The viability of minimally invasive surgery will primarily depend on your individual health factors. The success of your surgery, however, depends on the orthopaedic specialist you choose.
Dr. Ian Rodway at Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine can perform a comprehensive evaluation of your health, pinpoint the exact cause of your pain, and answer all of your questions about minimally invasive spine surgery and the rehabilitation process. Dr. Rodway is a board certified orthopaedic spine surgeon who specifically focuses on minimally invasive and motion sparing techniques.
You can schedule an appointment online to meet with Dr. Rodway at Beacon East or Beacon West as well as Beacon’s Summit Woods, Miamisburg and Wilmington locations.