Comparing Minimally Invasive And Open Spine Surgery

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: March 15, 2021

Artificial Disc Replacement

Surgical techniques continue to get smaller and more effective in treating the issues they hope to address, but that doesn’t mean that every single spinal procedure is performed using minimally invasive techniques. In some cases, an open operation is preferred to ensure the operation goes as planned. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the two techniques and explain the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Minimally invasive surgery, also known as a laparoscopic procedure, is oftentimes performed with specialized tools that allow the surgeon to visualize the surgical site on a screen inside the operating room so that they don’t have to make a large incision in order to operate. This live feed is relayed by a tool called a laparoscope that has a tiny camera attached to it. The instrument is inserted through a small incision and guided to the surgical site. A few other small incisions are also made to allow surgical tools to be able to access the location of surgery.

One of the biggest benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery is that it saves trauma on the body. Surgery is a major trauma, so if a surgeon can help to prevent tissue damage by using minimally invasive techniques, it will be easier on the patient in the long run.

Aside from preventing excess tissue damage, some of the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery include:

  • Reduced risk of complications
  • Quicker recovery
  • Decreased hospitalization costs
  • Decreased need for prolonged medication
  • Less pain
  • Quicker return to normal activities

However, like we mentioned above, it’s not a perfect system. One of the main drawbacks of minimally invasive surgery is that it is harder to perform for the surgeon. It’s harder to be as precise when working through a relayed video feed as opposed to visualizing the site directly during an open procedure, so it can cause problems if it’s not performed as expected. This also speaks to why it’s so important to consult with a spine specialist with thousands of operations under his belt to ensure they can provide you the highest level of care, even when using these more difficult techniques.

Open Spine Surgery

Open spine surgery is performed by making a much larger incision on the patient’s body. Special tools are then used to hold the skin and tissues out of the way so that the surgeon can have direct access to the spine and the surgical site. As we touched on above, this is a bigger trauma on the body that will come with a larger scar, more initial discomfort and a longer recovery time.

With that said, sometimes it is the only option to safely address all the issues with your spine. If you need to have a tumor removed or the surgeon can’t safely operate on the area with minimally invasive techniques, an open procedure can provide the perfect type of treatment. Also, because open procedures were considered the standard for decades, the vast majority of spine surgeons can safely and effectively perform this technique. You also won’t need to rely on certain technological hurdles in order to find a surgeon who can perform an open procedure.

Both techniques offer benefits and drawbacks, and it’s important to talk to your spine specialist about what technique might be best for your unique situation. For more information, or to talk to Dr. Sinicropi about your options, reach out to his office today at (651) 430-3800.

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