Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery vs. Open Neck and Back Surgery
Should you undergo minimally invasive spine surgery or open spine surgery? What’s the difference? If you’re considering undergoing neck or back surgery for a degenerative spine condition like spinal stenosis or a herniated disc, it’s essential that you learn about all of the options that may be available to you and fully understand the risks and benefits associated with each type of procedure.
Elective spine surgery may be suggested to a patient who is living with debilitating pain that has not responded to conservative treatment methods such as pain medication, physical therapy, and others. In cases of common degenerative spine conditions, the goal of both minimally invasive and open spine surgery is to remove some or all of an anatomical abnormality – a bulging disc, herniated disc, calcified ligament, etc. – that is placing pressure on the spinal cord or a nerve root and causing pain. The difference between the two operations is in the surgical approach used to achieve nerve decompression.
Traditional ‘Open’ Neck and Back Surgery
Traditional open neck or back surgery takes a highly invasive approach, requiring large incisions and the dissection of spinal muscles and other soft tissues. If a large portion of spinal anatomy must be removed, a vertebral fusion procedure may also be performed to maintain the structural stability of the spine. Recovering from open spine surgery tends to be quite lengthy, difficult, and painful.
Minimally invasive spine procedures can be effective alternatives to highly invasive open spine surgeries. Most minimally invasive spine procedures involve an endoscope, or camera, that “sees” inside the spine for an operating surgeon; because of this, only small incisions are required and no muscle tissues need be dissected or detached. Nerve decompression is typically achieved with the use of tiny surgical tools and a laser, so there is minimal disruption to the spinal components and spinal stability remains uncompromised. Minimally invasive spine surgery typically allows for a much faster and less arduous recovery than open spine surgery.
Consult your physician or a spine specialist to learn more about these procedures.