Minimally invasive spinal surgery

Specialty of Neurosurgery

What is it?    

Minimally invasive spine surgery, sometimes known as laparoscopic spine surgery, is an alternative to open surgery. One of the biggest issues with spinal surgery is the multiple incisions that need to be made, which can lead to scarring and blood loss during the long procedure. This is why minimally invasive spine surgery is opted for where possible. The scars are smaller, damage to muscle mass is minimal, and the recovery time is much faster. The outcome is the same as with traditional surgery. For these reasons, minimally invasive spine surgery is opted for where possible.   

Why would you do it?             

It is crucial to personalise the treatment plan and take the patient’s medical history into account. Minimally invasive surgery has many advantages for the patient. It is normally recommended when there is a neurological lesion, loss of strength, or changes in sensitivity. It can also be done on patients who have severe pain that does not respond to treatment.  

What does it involve?

During the surgery, a small 15mm incision will be made, which is where the cannula will be placed. Inside the cannula there will be a camera that can magnify the area being operated on. This way, large incisions do not have to be made to be able to access the spine.  

After the procedure, the patient will be kept in overnight, to assess the results of the surgery. The patient will be discharged and can go home the next day.  

Post-operative care

Upon being discharged, the patient can continue with their daily activities, within reason. The patient may have some discomfort so exercise and impact sports should be avoided. Patients should follow the guidelines given to them, especially during the first few weeks. Between 6 to 12 weeks later, they can start exercising again. Short term results are very good, and the patient can walk the day after surgery.  

Alternative treatments  

Minimally invasive spine surgery is a pioneering type of surgery within spinal surgery. There are other kinds of surgery, such as open spine surgery, commonly used to get rid of back pain, especially when a slipped disc compresses a nerve root, and all other non-surgical treatments have not provided relief. This technique is used when minimally invasive spine surgery is not an option. There is another type of surgery called percutaneous spinal surgery. This technique involves making implants in the back with minimal incisions. It is done through a tube, slowly dilating the tissues, and placing the implant in the spine. This way there is no tissue damage, and the patient can walk away almost immediately.         

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