What to Know About Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

When lifestyle modifications, medication, physical therapy, or injections have not been successful in treating a spine condition, surgery may be recommended. Specialists using minimally invasive surgical techniques and state-of-the-art technology can reduce pain, increase mobility, or improve overall quality of life for people with spine conditions that have not responded to conservative treatment.

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What Is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

Using advanced technology and highly specialized tools to assist with visualization and control, surgeons are able to perform minimally invasive spine surgery using smaller incisions and tubular retractors without disrupting surrounding soft tissues. This comes with a range of benefits for patients.

“It minimizes collateral damage to the tissue and achieves the same goals of an open spine surgery procedure with less damage,” says Vivek Sharma, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at UPMC Somerset and UPMC Montefiore. “The benefits are shorter hospital stays, less blood loss, and shorter anesthesia times so patients are able to go home faster and get back to their routine activities.”

People who undergo minimally invasive spine surgery may have a reduced risk of developing scar tissue and adjacent segment disease, Dr. Sharma adds. As a result, they’re also less likely to need a repeat surgery and will experience less postoperative pain.

“Patients should expect to have a faster recovery in the hospital,” Dr. Sharma says. “They usually are able to be up and around the same day of surgery with physical therapy. “It’s typically a one-night stay in the hospital and a return to activity levels maybe four to six weeks after.”

Spine surgeons at UPMC Orthopaedic Care are committed to using minimally invasive methods to treat all kinds of spine, neck, and back conditions, including:

Benefits and Risks of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Minimally invasive spine surgery, like most surgeries, comes with a range of possible risks and rewards.

Some of the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery compared to traditional or open spine surgery include:

  • Less time on anesthesia.
  • Less soft tissue damage and blood loss.
  • Reduced risk of infection.
  • Less pain and medication after surgery.
  • Less scarring.
  • Shorter hospital stays and recovery time.

General risks associated with any spine surgery include:

  • Postsurgical pain usually treated with medication.
  • Adverse reactions to anesthesia.
  • Infection at the procedure site.
  • Damage to surrounding tissue.
  • Injury to the nerves or spinal cord.

While many people may be candidates for minimally invasive surgery, some conditions require traditional spine surgery instead. Talk to your doctor about what’s best for you.

Visit UPMC Orthopaedic Care to learn more.

About UPMC Orthopaedic Care

When you are dealing with bone, muscle, or joint pain, it can affect your daily life. UPMC Orthopaedic Care can help. As a national leader in advanced orthopaedic care, we diagnose and treat a full range of musculoskeletal disorders, from the acute and chronic to the common and complex. We provide access to UPMC’s vast network of support services for both surgical and nonsurgical treatments and a full continuum of care. Our multidisciplinary team of experts will work with you to develop the treatment plan that works best for you. Our care team uses the most innovative tools and techniques to provide better outcomes. We also are leaders in research and clinical trials, striving to find better ways to provide our patients care. With locations throughout our communities, you can find a provider near you.