Back Stories

What’s behind the popularity of minimally invasive spine surgery?

Popularity of Minimally Invasive Surgeries photo by jurveston / CC by 2.0

Who doesn’t want to end their back pain without a long and difficult surgery, followed by a long and difficult recovery? Everyone, you say? That’s precisely why minimally invasive surgery has surged in popularity.

Approximately eight in 10 Americans experience some kind of back pain during their life, and many prolong their pain because of the perceived dangers and difficult recovery period associated with back surgery. With minimally invasive surgery, patients receive the benefit of:

  • Small incisions—As small as 3mm, and no cutting of back muscles, tendons or ligaments. “Because minimally invasive spine surgery does not involve a long incision, it avoids significant damage to the muscles surrounding the spine,” said the AAOS. In most cases, this results in less pain after surgery and a faster recovery.”
  • Less time under anesthesia, which reduces the potential for infection
  • Less blood loss—about 1/10th of traditional surgery, which means no blood transfusions
  • Lower incidence of revisions or additional procedures
  • Less scar tissue
  • Shorter hospital stay—In some cases, minimally invasive surgery can be completed as an outpatient procedure, “with patients going home the same day,” said DISC Spine Institute.
  • Shorter recovery time

On the rise

It’s not surprising that studies have shown an increase in minimally invasive back surgeries. National trends of minimally invasive cervical spine surgical procedures have been rising steadily for the last 15 years, according to data reported by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NCBI). Another study noted the rise of minimally-invasive lumbar disc surgery since 2000.

Finding the right doctor

In spite of the growing popularity minimally invasive spine surgery, there remains a small percentage of back surgeons who are trained to perform many of the procedures. Only 10 percent of today’s leading spine surgeons have the experience and technical skill to perform procedures including Endoscopic Microdiscectomy, Endoscopic Lumbar Fusion (MIS TLIF)Direct Lateral Anterior Fusion (XLIF) and Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF).

It’s important for patients to make sure their doctor is experienced in and qualified to perform the type of procedure they need, especially when considering minimally invasive techniques. While open surgeries are sometimes needed, advancements in medicine and technology have made many of these procedures unnecessary, and, in some cases, obsolete.

For more information about minimally invasive procedures, contact DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive treatments, the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain.

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3 years ago

I didn’t know that approximately eight of ten Americans experience some kind of back pain during their life. My father is one of those people. My mom suggested having spine surgery and shared this article with him. It says only ten percent of today’s leading spine surgeons have the experience and technical skills, so he needs to find the right doctor for this procedure.

Alexandria Martinez
3 years ago

A good friend of mine was telling me about how she may need to look into a spine treatment. She is a little nervous to start looking since she has never had to deal with a medical problem like this. I will make sure she knows to look for a surgeon that is well trained and experienced.

2 years ago

My brother has an injury on his back after playing basketball. It was mentioned here that there will be only incisions and less time under anesthesia for minimally invasive surgery. Moreover, it will be best to consult experts for spine surgery.

Gerty Gift
2 years ago

I thought it was interesting that you said that since the incision is so small, there would be less of a recovery period since less muscles were disturbed during the process. My uncle had back surgery a while ago, but I remember that he had a hard time recovering and it took a long time. I think that this is the way to go to avoid any unnecessary complications that can come up.

2 years ago

Hopefully the amount of surgeons who are trained in minimally invasive procedures continues to grow. The lower risk and shorter recovery window really makes it the best option.

Kit Hannigan
2 years ago

It sure is interesting to know that 10 Americans experience back pain in their lives. My dad has worked in an auto repair shop for the larger part of his life, and he has been complaining about some pretty serious and consistent back pain now. I’ll be happy to tell him that there are now minimally invasive spine surgeries that can ease his pain with lower risks.

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