The spine specialists at El Camino Hospital have extensive experience with the latest minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) techniques, including involvement in the development of several technologies now used throughout the world. MISS techniques, which are used to treat a variety of spine disorders, offer the following significant advantages over the traditional methods of spine surgery:
- Minimal trauma to the spine and its surrounding structures
- Incisions a fraction of the size normally used with traditional techniques
- Minimal blood loss
- Hospitalizations of less than 24 hours, frequently with same-day discharge
- Rapid return to work and an active lifestyle
Traditional spine surgery
Until fairly recently, surgery of the spine involved large incisions and a significant amount of trauma to the surrounding tissues. In many cases, there was significant blood loss, at times requiring transfusion and hospital stays of several days or more. Recovery was a lengthy process. It could take months or even as long as a year before patients could resume their normal activities — if they could at all. All that is now history, thanks to the develop- ment of minimally invasive spine surgery.
MISS is done through small incisions, often less than the width of a dime, through which a tube or narrow retractor is passed. The incisions are located according to which area of the spine requires surgery. Depending on the specific surgery, either a microscope or endoscope is used.
- Tubular or narrow retractors specifically designed for MISS minimize muscle damage by separating the muscles instead of cutting through them. Additionally, image guidance is used to place the retractor. The surgery is then performed with the help of magnification.
- Endoscopes use thin fiber optic cables attached to a light source and camera. This allows the surgeon to make a very small incision through which the endoscope is inserted, visualizing the surgical field through a monitor in the operating room. Instruments are then passed through a channel in the endoscope to perform the surgery.
Common MISS procedures
Many common spine conditions can be treated with MISS, including:
- Cervical and lumbar disc herniations
- Cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis
- Degenerative scoliosis
- Spondylolisthesis (slippage of one vertebra onto another) •Certain types of spine fractures and tumors of the spine
Advantages of MISS
Patients of all ages and activity levels can benefit from minimally invasive spine surgery. Significant advantages include:
- Less trauma to the body. The use of small incisions decreases tissue trauma and minimizes blood loss. Smaller incisions heal faster and are less noticeable.
- Smoother, speedier recovery. Using smaller incisions with less tissue trauma, recovery is faster and patients return to normal activities and work much sooner.
- Outpatient procedures. In many instances, surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis. Your doctor will tell you if this is an option.