If you’re a candidate for spine surgery, the minimally invasive technique may be a better treatment option because it can return you to normal activities faster with less pain and reduced recovery time afterward. Not every spine problem is treatable with minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) but the benefits of this innovative type of surgery can be numerous if your back issue qualifies. Patrick S. McNulty, MD, FABSS, FABOS, an award winning orthopedic surgeon and spine specialist at McNulty Spine in Las Vegas and Henderson, NV is an expert in MISS. He's also well-versed on employing the latest robotics techniques that can also enhance your surgical procedure.
What is MISS?
During a traditional or “open” procedure, your surgeon first makes a long incision that exposes the portion of spine requiring treatment. This can require removal of healthy tissue, which adds to postsurgical pain and downtime since skin, muscles, and connective tissue must also heal before your recovery is complete. Compared to traditional surgery, MISS requires smaller incisions and causes less trauma to the muscle and other tissues surrounding your spine.
For the MISS method, your surgeon makes a very small incision near the targeted area and inserts a tubular retractor into the site. Specially sized surgical tools, including a light and tiny camera, are then passed through the retractor and surgery is performed using X-ray or robotic guidance.
The retractor pushes muscle and healthy tissue aside, so there’s no need to cut away tissue or openly expose the spine to complete the surgery. Depending on the condition you have, your MISS may be done on an outpatient basis. This means you can expect to return home the same day as your surgery.
Conditions that can be treated with MISS
Examples of conditions that may be best treated with MISS include:
- Herniated disc
- Scoliosis and other spinal deformities
- Narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis)
- Spinal instability
- Vertebral defect such as spondylolysis
- Fractured vertebra
Note that spine surgery is typically only considered after conservative treatments such as medication and rehab have failed to relieve your back pain and other symptoms. We perform a complete evaluation before making recommendations for MISS.
What the recovery is like after MISS
Recovery time varies by the individual and often depends on the condition being treated, your age, and your overall physical health. You can expect some pain after the surgery, which generally fades rapidly and is typically treated with a short course of pain medications.
You may need to limit lifting and other activities for a time, and you’ll receive detailed instructions regarding those restrictions. The ultimate goal, however, is to relieve your back pain and get you moving freely again as quickly as possible. Physical therapy is often prescribed to help strengthen your muscles and speed the rehabilitation process.
If your back pain has not responded to injections, medication, or other conservative therapies, MISS may be your best treatment option. Schedule an appointment at McNulty Spine today. Call the office or request a visit online.