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Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

RWJBarnabas Health: Back & Spine Center in New Jersey

Minimally invasive spine surgery makes it possible to access the bones of the spine through small incisions, causing less post-operative pain and leading to a faster recovery. Through top-of-the-line technology, our board-certified neurosurgeons can now access the spine using the smallest incisions possible, minimizing any damage to surrounding muscles and other tissues. By contrast, traditional, open spine surgery starts with a long incision down the back and then manipulating or removing the adjacent muscles and soft tissues to access the problem area of the back.

During minimally invasive spine surgery, your surgeon will access the problem area of your back through very small incisions, through which a tubular retractor will create a tunnel to pass small tools and instruments, to work on the spine. A special operating microscope called a fluoroscope is guided through an endoscope, to allow your surgical team to view the X-ray images of the spine in real time, to ensure the utmost accuracy. The tiny video camera attached to the endoscope projects an internal view of the patient’s body onto a TV screen in the operating room. Once the procedure is done, the incisions are closed with sutures and covered with surgical tape.

A minimally invasive technique can be utilized for the following spinal surgeries:

  • Microsurgical neurological care
  • Spinal stabilization
  • Spinal fusion
  • Disc arthroplasty
  • Motion preservation
  • Disc replacement
  • Repair of herniated discs
  • Deformity corrections
  • Decompression of spinal tumors
  • Repair of vertebral compression fractures

The Benefits of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

With traditional spine surgeries, there is a much more significant risk of pain and blood loss, as well as a lengthy hospitalization for post-op healing. By contrast, minimally invasive procedures generally entail less pain and blood loss, and a shorter hospital stay. There are many other advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery over open surgery, including less trauma to adjacent tissues and less anesthesia. Many patients also prefer minimally invasive spine surgery, because the resulting scars are tiny and barely noticeable compared to one large scar running down the back.

Risks of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Even though minimally invasive procedures are generally less risky than traditional, open spine surgeries, any surgical procedure has associated risks. One of the major risks is the possibility that your surgical team will need to convert to a full/open technique mid-way through your surgery, if a minimally invasive technique is found to be inadequate for optimal results

Some of the risks of minimally invasive spine surgery include:

  • Adverse reaction to anesthesia
  • Post-operative pneumonia
  • Deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in the legs) that may travel to the lungs and become a pulmonary embolus
  • Infection
  • Blood loss
  • Injury to the nerves or spinal cord
  • Paralysis (estimated risk of paralysis from spine surgery is less than 1 in 10,000 operations)

Am I a Good Candidate for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

To determine your candidacy for minimally invasive spine surgery, your neurosurgery team will evaluate you. Our board-certified neurosurgeons at RWJBarnabas Health are leaders in the field of minimally invasive neurosurgery, and experienced in these techniques. To learn if you are a candidate, schedule your consultation with a member of our team.

Contact RWJBarnabas Health for further information about minimally invasive spine surgery.