Lower back pain is a common problem which affects millions of people worldwide. Around 90 per cent of the patients don’t require surgical procedure. In 10 per cent of the patients, spine surgery is only recommended when a period of non-surgical treatment i.e., medicines and physiotherapy has not relieved the painful symptoms. Spine surgery was traditionally done as open surgery, which means the area which is to be operated was opened by a long incision to expose the bone and nerves. In recent years however, technological advances have allowed back and neck problems to be treated in minimally invasive way.

Spinal problems that can be treated with minimally invasive options

A lot of spine problems can be treated by key hole surgery. Some of these are listed below. Also Read – Everything you need to know about spinal stenosis

  • Herniated discs
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Osteoporotic vertebral fractures

All about the procedure

Now let’s see how is this surgery is performed. We all know that spinal nerves, vertebrae and the discs are located deep inside the body and, to reach there, the muscles have to be kept out of the way. This is done by using a tubular retractor which sequentially dilates the muscles as opposed to cutting it in an open technique. By using tubes to keep muscles out of way, a surgeon can work through the incision without exposing the area widely. Surgeons also uses an endoscope or a microscope while doing this surgery. This makes the surgery very safe. Once the procedure is complete, the tubular retractor is removed allowing the dilated tissues to fall in their normal position.

Good for putting implants in place too

Depending upon the patient condition, in some of the spinal diseases, it is necessary to place rods and screws to stabilize the patient’s spine. Traditional surgeries for placement of screws require extensive removal of muscles and other tissues from the spine. However, percutaneous placement typically involves inserting rods and screws through very small incisions without damaging the muscles over the spine. This is made possible by initially placing the guide wires through which the screws are placed through a extensive modernized instrumentation technique.

Benefits of this minimally invasive technique

Minimally invasive technique is far better as compared to open technique in following ways:

  • Skin Incision is small and muscle damage is less so far less chances of infection.
  • There is hardly any bleeding so blood transfusion is not required.
  • Complications related to transfusion can be prevented.
  • Hospital stay is significantly shortened and some patients can be discharged in a single day.
  • Because minimally invasive techniques don’t disrupt the muscles so duration of operation is reduced.
  • Post operative pain is also very reduced and patient is very comfortable in post op period.
  • The requirement of brace in post op period is also very limited as there is hardly any destruction of bone and muscles.
  • Also, the spine contours are well maintained.
  • The scar of a minimally invasive surgery is very small (around 2 cm) and it looks just like a scratch. This method is a boon for obese patients in which the spine is quite deep and therefore requires long incision which results in wound problems in open surgery. But in this technique all these complications can be avoided.

But it should be made clear that this is a very new technology and lots of extensive training is required to perform this surgery.


This post first appeared on The Health Site

Last Updated on June 21, 2021 by shalw

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