Minimally Invasive Spinal Fusion Surgery: The Basics

Minimally invasive spinal fusion surgery is a type of surgery that concentrates on your backbone. It uses smaller incisions during the surgery than a standard operation. This can usually cause less harm to the nearby tissues and muscles. In turn, this can lead to faster recovery periods and less pain after your surgery.

The standard spine surgery method is called open surgery. During this surgery, the surgeon will create a long incision into your back, and they’ll move your soft tissue and muscles away from the spine. In some instances, they’d have to remove some of the tissue.

When you have minimally invasive spinal fusion surgery, you’ll get a much smaller incision, oftentimes in the front of the neck. They’ll insert a device known as a tubular retractor, and this is a tube-shaped tool that is very stiff. This creates a tunnel straight to your spine’s problem area. It gently moves the soft tissue and muscle away from the spine. The surgeon can insert smaller tools through this tunnel to work. They also use a machine that gives them real-time x-ray images when they’re working.

Surgeons can now use minimally invasive spine surgery for a few different surgical procedures. This includes spinal fusion, lumbar discectomy, and laminectomy.

Reasons You May Need Spinal Fusion Surgery

Generally speaking, most people who have back pain will not need surgical intervention. Your primary care provider may suggest spinal fusion surgery if you have back problems that haven’t improved or resolved with physical therapy or medication. If you’re still in a lot of pain, a spinal fusion surgery could help fix it.

It’s important to note that spinal surgery won’t fix every type of back issue. This is why your primary care physician will only recommend spinal surgery if you have the type of problem that it can solve or alleviate. The most common reasons people suggest back surgery are:

  • Fractured vertebra
  • Herniated disc
  • Infection in your spine
  • Spinal deformities
  • Spinal instability
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolysis
  • Tumor in the spine

If you’re considering spinal surgery, you should talk to your primary care doctor and see if minimally invasive surgery is a good option. This type of procedure isn’t suitable for all spinal surgery types. Also, not all surgical facilities or hospitals are equipped to perform it.

Minimally Invasive Spine Fusion Surgery Basics

Every surgery has risks associated with it. The biggest risks that come with this type of surgery include but are not limited to:

  • Anesthesia complications
  • Blood clots
  • Excess bleeding
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Persistent pain
  • Spinal fluid leaking

The risks will vary according to your general health, your age, and the type of surgery you have. Having surgery at a facility that excels at this type of procedure can help to lower your risks.

Preparing for Minimally Invasive Spinal Fusion Surgery

You’ll talk to your healthcare provider on how you should prepare in the days leading up to your surgery. Make sure to tell your doctor about all of your medications, and you may have to stop taking some ahead of time. You also want to stop smoking before your surgery if you currently do. You may also need imaging tests like x-rays or an MRI. The night before your surgery, don’t eat or drink after midnight.

During the Procedure

A trained medical team with an orthopedic surgeon will perform your surgery. The exact details depend on what you have done and which part of the spine they work on. As an example, you may have:

The surgical team can give you a type of anesthesia to numb part of your body with sedation. This will keep you relaxed during the surgery. You might also have general anesthesia that puts you to sleep during the operation. An anesthesiologist will monitor your vital signs during the surgery, like your blood pressure and heart rate.

You could get antibiotics before and after the procedure to help prevent infection. The surgeon will use a special type of x-ray during the procedure to see the area they’re working on. They’ll make a small incision before inserting a tubular retractor to expose the part of the spine that needs treatment. They’ll make the needed repairs and retract the tools. The surgeon will use comfortable, minimally invasive methods to close the wound before applying a small bandage.

After the Procedure

Some types of spinal fusion surgery are done on an outpatient basis where you go home the same day. You’ll have to stay for a few hours after the surgery so the medical team can monitor for problems. They may also ask you to stay a night or two in the hospital. You’ll need someone to drive you home when they release you from the hospital.

You can resume your normal diet as soon as you can tolerate it. There will be minor pain after the surgery, and your surgeon may or may not prescribe prescription pain killers. You can also use over-the-counter options approved by the surgeon.

You’ll get instructions on what you can and can’t do after your surgery. You’ll limit bending or lifting. They may give you a back or neck brace to wear for a few days or weeks after the surgery. You may also need physical therapy to help strengthen all of the muscles around your spine depending on the injury type. The recovery time will vary depending on your general health and the type of surgery you had, but it much shorter with minimally invasive methods. Follow any instructions you get for treatment and follow-up visits.

Contact Florida Spine Associates Today

If you’re considering minimally invasive spinal fusion surgerycontact us. Our dedicated team of experienced healthcare professionals is ready to answer any questions you have. We can set up a consultation at a time and date that works for you, see if you’re a good candidate, and walk you through the entire process.