WHAT IS MINIMALLY INVASIVE SPINE SURGERY?
Spine surgery has been traditionally viewed as a painful endeavor, associated with protracted hospital stays and postoperative pain and spasm. Over the past decade, a trend toward making incisions smaller and trying to decrease patient’s postoperative discomfort has yielded even more treatment options for patients with spine problems.
WHICH SURGERIES CAN BE DONE THIS WAY?
Not every surgery can be done in this fashion, but those patients qualified for these procedures are pleased with their results. Both procedures that decompress the spinal elements and fusion operations can be completed with a minimally invasive technique.
Here is a sampling of different types of procedures possible through minimally invasive techniques:
- Cervical Fusion (also called ACDF)
- Lumbar Fusion (also called PLIF or TLIF)
- Lateral Lumbar Fusion (also called DLIF or XLIF)
- Spinal Disc Replacement
- Endoscopic Spine Surgery
ARE THERE FEWER RISKS?
The same risks as in traditional open techniques are applicable in minimally invasive surgery. However, a spine doctor who performs minimally invasive procedures will aim to decrease your recovery time and postoperative discomfort, and therein lies the benefits.
Studies have shown tendencies towards less blood loss, less postoperative pain, shorter hospital stays, and less risk of infection. Minimally invasive surgery has also allowed for procedures that once required a one or more-day stay in the hospital to be done in outpatient surgery centers. Not every surgery can or should be performed in outpatient settings. Dr. Gantwerker, one of the top spine surgeons in Santa Monica, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, and West L.A., carefully screens every patient in order to determine his patients' best options.
EXPECTATIONS AFTER SURGERY
The goal of every spinal surgery is symptom relief. Early action will allow a patient to return home faster. Getting back on the road to health and a productive lifestyle is sped up by minimally invasive techniques. Physical therapy begins 2-4 weeks after surgery. Most patients receive in-home visits from a visiting nurse or medical assistant to monitor their incision. Some patients may receive physical therapy while still at home.