What is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
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15, June 2024

What is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

For the treatment of a variety of spinal disorders, minimally invasive surgical techniques have grown in popularity, viability, and efficiency over the past 20 years. A growing pool of research has shown these techniques have many advantages over the open approach. To address the limitations of open spine surgery, several minimally invasive spine surgeries (MISSs) have been developed. Small skin incisions, less tissue damage, speedy recovery, and a shorter hospital stay are some of their benefits. The clinical outcomes, however, are on par with open surgery. The maximum number of indications that could be set for all spinal disorders was limited. But the indications for MISSs have been enhanced owing to mechanical and technological advances in medical infrastructure.

The main goals of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS) are to minimize muscle and ligament injury during surgery and maintain the body's normal structure, leading to faster recovery and better quality of life. These goals are now achievable thanks to technological advances in recent decades. Navigation and robotic systems allow for safe pedicle screw fixation, while endoscopic methods improve surgical field visibility for precise procedures. Various minimally invasive decompression and fusion surgeries are now possible, from simple herniated disk repairs to complex spinal conditions like deformities, fractures, and tumors.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery: Relief for Back Pain

Minimally invasive spine surgery is a procedure that makes use of the least invasive approach to access and treat the disorders of the spine. A single, long incision is made through your skin by your surgeon during a traditional open surgery procedure. Much of the surrounding soft tissue and muscle are pulled away from the bone to make the surgical site easier for your surgeon to observe. This may lead to increased post-operative pain and a longer healing period.
Your surgeon makes one or more smaller skin incisions during minimally invasive surgery. Your surgeon can operate in a smaller operating field because of the endoscope, which is a small metal tube that passes through the incision. Your skin, soft tissues, and muscles suffer far less damage as a result of this. With this procedure, healing time often gets shortened.

Advantages of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Following are the advantages of minimally invasive surgery:

  • Smaller skin incisions (sometimes as small as several millimeters) yield better cosmetic results.
  • Reduced blood loss during surgery
  • Decreased chance of muscle injury because less or no muscle cutting is necessary
  • Decreased chance of infection and pain following surgery
  • Quicker surgical recovery and reduced need for rehabilitation
  • Reduced need for painkillers following surgery

Conditions For Which Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery is Suggested

Following are the conditions for which minimally invasive spine surgery may be suggested:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Herniated disc
  • Spinal deformities such as scoliosis
  • Spinal instability including spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal infections
  • Spinal tumors
  • Vertebral compression fractures

How to Prepare for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

Prior to having minimally invasive spine surgery, you will have a consultation with your surgeon. To prepare for the procedure, they will prescribe you some imaging tests and conduct a physical examination. Prior to surgery, you will receive detailed instructions from your surgeon that may include:

  • You will have to undergo additional tests, like an X-ray, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test of your spine.
  • Stop smoking few weeks prior to surgery.
  • Engage in regular exercise prior to surgery to maintain your muscles and body in good shape and to speed up your recovery.
  • Before surgery, stop taking certain medicines or start taking others. This may include taking antibiotics or quitting any supplements or non-essential drugs that might impede your recovery. Medication should not be stopped unless your doctor gives the okay. Finally, it is always advisable to wait to take opioids until after surgery.
  • The night before surgery, adhere to the restrictions on what you can and cannot eat or drink.

How is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Done?

Following steps will be involved in your surgery:

  1. You will be administered anesthesia.
  2. Your doctor will make an incision in your back, chest, and/or abdomen.
  3. A tube will be inserted and you will be operated under the guidance of microscope visualization. As an alternative, your surgeon may insert an endoscope—a stick-like instrument with a camera on the end—to view the operating area.
  4. Small surgical instruments will be used to complete the procedure through the endoscope tube or through the other incisions with thin, hollow tubes (tubular retractors).
  5. After the treatment, retractors and devices will be removed so that muscles and tissue of the patient return to their original position.
  6. Incisions will be closed and covered with bandages.


Your daily routine might be affected if you have back pain. Most likely, you've made multiple appointments to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. They might have provided a wide range of treatments, but unfortunately, none of them addressed the underlying problem. Although having surgery can be frightening, minimally invasive spine surgery might be less so than open surgery.

Minimally invasive procedure surgeons have received extensive training to reduce the possibility of complications. To help reduce your anxiety before the procedure, ask any questions you may have of your surgeon or the care team.


Q1: For whom is minimally invasive spine surgery a good option?
A: A minimally invasive procedure may be used to treat patients with spinal stenosis, a herniated disc, and spondylolisthesis if non-surgical treatments are ineffective for at least three months in relieving their symptoms. Older patients are typically good candidates for the procedure.

Q2: To what extent is minimally invasive spine surgery painful?
A: Following minimally invasive surgery, you should expect some discomfort, but it won't be as severe as that of open surgery. This is so that there is less harm to your muscles or tissues from the minimally invasive procedures. Your doctor might suggest taking painkillers to manage your discomfort.

Q3: How long does it take to recover from minimally invasive spine surgery?
While it can vary, the entire recovery period after MISS typically lasts six weeks. It should be mentioned that compared to an open procedure, this recovery time is much shorter. As you heal, your surgeon will provide you with a more detailed schedule.

Dr Aaksha Shukla By -Dr Aaksha Shukla | June 15, 2024 | 9 Min Read

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