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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