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Most people who are considering surgery would prefer a minimally invasive procedure but very few actually understand what this means. Minimally invasive spine surgery does not refer to a specific procedure. Rather, it is more properly described as a philosophy. In order to understand this approach, it’s important to understand the traditional method of spine surgery and compare it with this newer more effective method.

Older Traditional Spine Surgery…


Increased Recovery Time


Large Incisions (5 in+)


Higher Infection Risk

Longer Hospital Stay

When approaching surgery, the traditional technique was to make a large incision with wide exposure to allow for complete visualization of the anatomy. This way surgeons could be comfortable that they were operating in the right area and doing the right procedure. Unfortunately, this required large incisions extensive dissection and subsequently damage that issues. This increases recovery time increases the risk of infection increases surgical time ultimately this leads to increased length of stay in the hospital and increased risks of peri-operative complications.

Newer Minimally Invasive Surgery Today…

Quicker at-Home Recovery


Smaller Incision

Faster Surgery


Minimal Damage

As we have gained a better understanding of surgical anatomy and with greater availability of resources such as image guidance and improve surgical instruments such as arthroscopes and specialized retractors we have been able to greatly reduce the size of surgical incisions. ultimately the goal is to accomplish the same procedure with minimizing collateral damage. In this way a lumbar Fusion that traditionally would have been done with the 5 or 6 inch scission in a surgery that lasted 3 to 4 hours and may have had blood loss that was significant enough to require a transfusion, can now be done through 2 small incisions less than an inch in length with tissue spreading techniques that minimize muscle damage.

Minimally Invasive surgery can accomplish the same decompression and stabilization of the spine. In a skilled physician’s hands, the surgery will take less time than the old method of open procedure. Additional equipment and significant training and experience are required which is why true minimally invasive spine surgery continues to only be done by a few surgeons.

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