Minimally invasive spine surgery was first performed in the 1980s, but has recently seen rapid advances in technology that have enabled spine surgeons to expand patient selection and treat an increasing number of spinal disorders, such as degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, fractures, tumors, infections, instability, and deformity.
Minimally invasive spine surgery was developed to treat disorders of the spine with less disruption to the muscles and tissues. The minimized disruption can result in decreased blood loss during surgery and a faster recovery. In many cases minimally invasive spine surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis.
Not all patients are appropriate candidates for minimally invasive spine surgery procedures. Primarily, there needs to be certainty that the same or better results can be achieved through minimally invasive spine surgery techniques than with an open procedure. Additionally, all non-emergency spinal patients should undergo an appropriate period of conservative treatment, that can include physical therapy, pain management, and bracing prior to pursuing surgical solutions.
An example of a minimally invasive spine surgery procedure is the XLIF
According to Dr. J. Brian Gill, a surgeon at Nebraska Spine Hospital, “the XLIF® procedure is a minimally invasive spine surgery for patients who suffer from back and leg pain. The procedure is done on the patient’s side whereby an incision is made about the size of a half dollar coin. Through this portal the structures compressing nerves causing the back and leg pain are removed. Most patients are able to walk the same day. However, not all conditions are amendable to this procedure and it has its limitations.”