Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery

Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery (MISS) is a type of spinal surgical technique. Although it has existed for around 30 years, recent and revolutionary advances in surgical technology have transformed the technique.

What is minimally invasive spinal surgery?

Doctor explaining x-ray results to patientMinimally invasive spinal surgery is spinal surgery that is performed through much smaller openings than in traditional surgery. It is sometimes referred to as ‘keyhole surgery’. It is one of the most rapidly advancing surgical areas, utilizing computer-aided surgical technology and highly specialized tools. The rapid and innovative advances in this area have meant that this type of surgery is now available and appropriate to many more people with spinal problems.

In some types of MISS, a tiny camera will be inserted into the region of the surgical area. This camera provides real-time vision of the area, allowing highly accurate and detailed surgery to be performed by your neurosurgeon.

What are the benefits of minimally invasive spinal surgery?

Minimally invasive spinal surgery may have the following benefits:

  • Much quicker recovery time than traditional surgery
  • Much less trauma to the muscles surrounding spine
  • Less blood loss
  • Greatly decreased post-operative pain
  • Smaller surgical incisions and less scarring
  • Greatly improved recovery time
  • Less risk of infection during or following surgery
  • Fewer surgical complications
  • Can sometimes be performed as an outpatient (day-surgery).

What types of conditions can be treated with minimally invasive spinal surgery?

Many types of spinal conditions can now be successfully treated with minimally invasive spinal surgery. These include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Disc herniation
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Adult scoliosis
  • Spinal fractures
  • Spinal tumors
  • Syringomyelia
  • Spinal arachnoid cysts

In rare cases, MISS is not appropriate. This may be in the presence of rare types of infection or when surgery is indicated for certain conditions. Your doctor will be able to talk to you about whether minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery is appropriate for your condition.

When is Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery performed?

As in traditional surgery, MISS is usually only performed after non-surgical methods of treatment have been trialed. Although the risk of complication is much less than in traditional surgery, all surgery carries some risk and the risk to benefit relationship needs to be carefully considered. Your doctor may first send you for physical therapy or trial various medications. MISS may be considered if conservative treatment has not been successful in relieving your symptoms or in certain conditions where surgery is indicated; for example, if there is pressure on your spinal cord or nerves.

Although it depends on the actual condition and surgical procedure, most people who receive minimally invasive spinal surgery enjoy a rapid and full recovery following their treatment.