Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
Over the last 20 years in practice, Dr. Ball has performed many minimally invasive spine surgery procedures and has extensive experience teaching other spine surgeons minimally invasive surgical techniques for both the cervical and lumbar spine.
Minimally invasive surgery allows Dr. Ball to use specific surgical techniques that limit the size and number of incisions that need to be made during a surgical procedure. As a result, he can perform surgery without cutting into a lot of skin and muscle, as is done with open spine surgery.
Surgeons who perform minimally invasive surgery, like Dr. Ball, have very specialized training in addition to the traditional open surgery training obtained by spine surgeons. These surgeries involve specialized instruments and skill to perform the operation through small incision sites.
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery FAQs
Minimally invasive surgery allows Dr. Ball to use specific surgical techniques that limit the size and number of incisions that need to be made during a surgical procedure. As a result, he can perform surgery without cutting into a lot of skin and muscle, as is done with open spine surgery. Less trauma to the muscles results in less pain, less blood loss, and quicker recovery times.
Minimally invasive surgical approaches can be faster, safer, and require less recovery time. Other potential benefits include
- Better cosmetic results from smaller skin incisions
- Less blood loss from surgery.
- Reduced risk of muscle damage due to reduced trauma to the muscles and soft tissues.
- Reduced risk of infection and postoperative pain.
- Faster recovery from surgery and less rehabilitation required.
- Diminished reliance on pain medications after surgery.
Depending on the baseline health of the patient, many minimally invasive spine surgeries can be done on an outpatient basis.
Spine surgery has evolved quite a bit over the last 10 years. We now have tools that allow us to offer minimally invasive spine procedures to our patients that we may not have had 10 years ago. Because the spinal nerves, vertebrae, and disc are located deep inside the body, any approach to gain access to the spinal area requires moving the muscle tissue out of the way. Generally, this is facilitated by utilizing a small incision(s), specialized retractors, and guiding instruments and/or microscopic video cameras through these incisions.
These tools include the operating microscope which basically provides us superior illumination and magnification of the tissues, which allows us to focus on the area of interest and perhaps minimize the size of the incision. The other tools that we have include advanced image guidance systems which allow us to have better imaging in the operating room which lets us guide the surgery to the area of interest and provide patients with excellent results. Robotic spine surgery also helps with accuracy and speed of placing screws in fusion operations.
There are several spine conditions that can be treated with minimally invasive spine surgery including:
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Herniated Disc
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
- Spinal Deformities (e.g., Scoliosis)
- Spinal Infections
- Spinal instability Including Spondylolisthesis
- Vertebral Compression Fractures
- Spinal Tumors
An XLIF, a Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion procedure, is performed minimally invasively to treat leg or back pain caused by degenerative disc disease. The procedure can also be performed on an outpatient basis. Click on the video to learn more.
A minimally invasive lumbar microdecompression procedure is done to remove overgrown vertebral bone and soft tissue to relieve the compression of nerve roots in the lumbar spine. It is performed through a small incision on the back. Click on the video to learn more.
Typically, patients who undergo minimally invasive spine surgery can return to normal activities within a few weeks. Oftentimes, patients can begin their physical therapy and recovery program sooner than patients who have had open spine surgery, because their pain is less severe. Patients who have conventional (open) spine surgery, typically, have a 2-3 month recovery period.