No one wants to have surgery, especially back surgery. The recovery time can be much more difficult than some other surgeries because you often cannot lay on your back, which can be uncomfortable, and you have to limit your movements as much as possible.
That’s why minimally invasive spine surgery is the best option. If you’ve never had this type of surgery before and haven’t discussed it with your doctor, here’s a brief look at what it involves and how it’s more beneficial than more traditional surgical options.
There’s No Major Incision
It’s important to know the basics of traditional back surgery in order to truly appreciate minimally invasive surgery. The traditional approach is what’s known as an open surgery—a long incision is made over the opening where the surgeon will be working. The skin is actually pulled apart or back so the surgeon has a clear view of the spine and other organs or parts they are working on. This incision can be as large as six inches.
Once it’s made, the muscles surrounding the part of the spine that the surgeon is working on then have to be moved to the side, which puts stress on those muscles. In some cases, the muscles actually have to be cut, and even the soft tissue near them can be damaged, causing pain and lengthening the recovery time.
During traditional back surgery recovery, there are also concerns. There’s the risk of ripping open the stitches by suddenly moving too quickly or even by doing something as simple as coughing or sneezing. There’s also a higher risk of infection occurring because the incision is fairly large, leaving more openings for bacteria and germs to enter the body.
A minimally invasive procedure, on the other hand, means that no large incision is necessary. With smaller incisions, there’s less damage to the muscle. This makes the procedure much less painful and shortens the recovery time.
How Do Surgeons Work with Small Incisions?
Because the skin isn’t opened like it is in open surgery, many people wonder how surgeons are able to tell what they’re doing. The key to many of these procedures is a tool called the tubular retractor.
This tool is inserted by making a small incision in the back near the area to be operated on. The tubular retractor is pushed down through the muscle and the soft tissue in the area of the spine to be operated on. This makes a tunnel for the surgeon to use to reach the trouble area without cutting or otherwise damaging the muscles.
Once the tubular retractor is in place, the surgeon uses small tools to reach down through the created passage to operate on the spine. Everything, whether it’s a tool being used, or pieces of material being removed, passes through the tubular retractor.
For some procedures, several retractors may need to be placed, but this is still often preferred to making one large incision.
The Use of Fluoroscopy and Microscopes
Another method used in these minimally invasive procedures is fluoroscopy. This device uses x-rays to show the surgeon what is happening within the body in real time. They use these images to guide the tools inserted via the tubular retractor.
However, while fluoroscopy helps guide the surgeon, there are times when they do need to view the actual spine and muscles near it. When that’s needed, they make use of special microscopes that fit within the retractor.
The End of the Procedure
When the surgery is complete, the surgeon removes the tubular retractor, allowing the muscles to slide back into position. The small incision is then stitched back up.
Need Back Surgery?
If you’re in need of back surgery, you’ve come to the right place. The surgeons here at AICA Orthopedics are very experienced in performing minimally invasive procedures. These procedures can be used for a number of different back surgeries. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.