What is the difference between minimally invasive spine surgery and open spine surgery?
If you require spine surgery there are a few different options you can consider. You should work closely with your NJ doctor to discuss your options and to decide on the best procedure to fit your needs.
Open Spine Surgery
Historically, all spine surgery has been performed through a large, open exposure. Open spine surgery involves a large incision and dissection of the muscles that support your back off of the bone to visualize entire segments of the spine, even though those parts that are not needed to be seen in order to perform the surgery. Surgical instruments are then used to cut away disc, bony or ligamentous materials to decompress your nerves.
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
Minimally invasive spine surgery uses much smaller incisions and much less disturbance to the muscles that support your spine. Only the muscle directly over the surgical area is touched, and these muscles are not cut or dissected. Instead, the muscle is gently spread apart using specialized surgical instruments. Your surgeon may use a microscope to visualize your spinal structures, and the material that is compressing your nerve is removed.
Comparing Both Surgeries
Both the open and minimally invasive approaches to spine surgery achieve the same goal – to decompress your spinal nerves, and if necessary stabilize the spine, so you can return to your normal level of function. Minimally invasive spinal surgery can achieve this with less damage to the muscles that support the spine. Furthermore, some minimally invasive surgeries even permit excellent results with less removal of bone and ligament than open approaches. Thus, sometimes the surgical goal can be achieved with less effect to the natural structures important in spine stability.
Since standard open spine surgery requires a large incision and involves extensive dissection of your lumbar muscles, your recovery may take some extra time waiting for these muscles to heal. There is the possibility that some of the muscle damage may be permanent. An open incision also means there will be increased blood loss during surgery and an increased risk of infection.
The smaller incision in the minimally invasive approach means less pain, less blood loss and a faster healing time. Together that all means you will have a more rapid return to your active lifestyle.