Minimally invasive spine surgery is the method of choice for most orthopedic and neurological spine surgeons when surgery is indicated for an individual with severe back pain. With a smaller incision, allowing a patient to heal more quickly, and better visualization of the procedure on a screen in front of him or her, it can produce a more positive result for the patient, with quicker recovery and less time in the hospital.
The reasons why it is becoming more appropriate are better visualization techniques and improved tools and procedures. Endoscopic procedures for spinal fusion and a technique called kyphoplasty can reduce a patient’s pain and offer them better quality of life after the procedure. In addition, organizations such as the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons are continually conducting research and training new physicians to offer the best minimally invasive spine surgery techniques possible.
Only in recent years has endoscopy been used in disc replacement surgery. Initially developed for surgeries of the female organs and the gastrointestinal tract, endoscopy was first introduced in the early 1800’s. Today, arthroscopy is the most widely used method of minimally invasive surgery for the joints. A minimally invasive spine surgery requires only a one inch incision in the anterior (front) of the body for the cervical (neck) area, or on the back for the lumbar (lower back) region. This procedure uses an endoscope – a thin, lighted tube with a camera at the end – to show the physician on a monitor the ruptured or herniated disc, vertebral degeneration or other issue needing treatment removal or repair on a TV monitor in front of him. With small tools placed through the incision, the surgery is conducted with a blown up version using a digitally superior camera and lighting. Being able to visualize the procedure on a video screen enhances the precision with which a surgeon can perform the surgery.
Minimally Invasive Kyphoplasty
Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive spine surgery performed for those who suffer from osteoporosis. Often, an individual with this condition will incur a vertebral compression fracture, yet even after non-surgical interventions such as pain medication, bed rest, back bracing and physiotherapy, their quality of life is still greatly diminished because of pain. Balloon kyphoplasty involves using orthopedic balloons filled with bone cement to repair the fractures. Nearly 50,000 people a year with osteoporosis, cancer and cancer treatments and hyperthyroidism receive this treatment.
A study regarding kyphoplasty vs. non-surgical care by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons revealed in 2010 that after 24 months of follow-up that kyphoplasty was an excellent option. 149 patients were treated with minimally invasive balloon kyphoplasty and 153 had only non-surgical treatment.
Measurements for quality of life, back pain and function and days of disability were monitored for two years. The outcomes were that those that had undergone the kyphoplasty reported: 1) improved quality of life, 2) reduced back pain and disability and 3) did not increase adverse affects including the risk of vertebral fracture over the two years. This was a first in clinical trials for this research.
A number of conditions can be treated with minimally invasive spine surgery and with positive outcomes for the patient is a good alternative to non-surgical treatments that are not effective.