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How Are Open and Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Different?

When considering the spectrum of back pain, only a small percentage calls for surgical intervention. Back pain is pervasive in the U.S., but most incidents can be treated by non-invasive or interventional treatments, or even at-home self-care.

That is great news for millions of back-pain sufferers, yet others still need to consider surgery to participate more fully in life again.

Open and minimally invasive surgical options each have pros and cons, but what matters most is the one that is best suited for the cause of your back pain.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS)

Minimally invasive spine surgery – sometimes called endoscopic – was first attempted in 1988 but has only more recently become popular thanks to the technological advancement of tools and imaging. Using specialized retractors, video instruments, and surgical equipment, our surgeons at Comprehensive Spine Institute now have improved visibility, despite the smaller incisions, enabling us to perform complex procedures.

The number of MISS procedures has steadily climbed over the last 20 years, but some cases are still best suited for traditional open surgery.

Types of conditions that are potential candidates for MISS:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated disc
  • Scoliosis and other spinal deformities
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Spinal infections
  • Spinal tumors
  • Vertebral compression fractures
  • Spinal instability

Benefits of Smaller Incisions

The leading benefit of MISS is less trauma for the patient while still aiming to provide the desired relief. Smaller incisions is a leading advantage of this type of surgery.

Positive results of smaller incisions include:

  • Less trauma to the tissue
  • Less blood loss
  • Less down time

Reduced trauma, blood loss and down time mean patients can heal faster and return more quickly to normal daily activities. Lower risk of infection and other complications also make MISS a great option.

In many situations, MISS can be performed as an outpatient procedure with no hospital stay required. The Comprehensive Spine Institute’s new state-of-the-art surgery center utilizes the newest technologies and modern equipment for an unmatched patient experience.

Risks of MISS

Every surgery has risks, and we do not want to gloss over that MISS has risks as well.

The risks of minimally invasive spine surgery include:

  • Infection
  • Excess bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Blood clots
  • Complications from anesthesia

Lastly, there is no guarantee that you will experience the level of pain relief you desire.

Open Spine Surgery

Traditionally, spine surgery is performed as open surgery. The surgeon makes a longer incision to better access the spine. Despite the growing use of MISS for spinal conditions, sometimes the preferred option remains open surgery.

Pros of Traditional Surgery

For example, if you have a certain type of spinal tumor or infection, open surgery might be the right choice for you. Traditional surgery is often advantageous if you have multiple issues that need to be addressed. Your surgeon can perform surgery on multiple levels in your spine with a single large incision. A traditional procedure allows your surgeon to see the whole picture while MISS would be more limiting, take longer, and could require you to be under anesthesia longer.

Open surgery is often referred to as the gold standard for most spinal pathology because the techniques have been tested over a longer period as compared to MISS.

Open Surgery Disadvantages

Because of the larger incision, there is more trauma to the surrounding muscle soft tissue. There is increased risk of infection, bleeding, and pain. Open surgery generally requires a longer hospital stay and increased rehabilitation time.

Which Surgery Is Best?

Neither minimally invasive nor open surgery is inherently better. Each patient is unique and their total well-being and back condition drive which type of surgery is best in their specific situation. MISS may seem to be the best option, but there are times when an open surgery is the more effective approach.

At the Comprehensive Spine Institute, surgery of any kind is only considered after conservative, non-invasive and interventional strategies fail in relieving your pain. Our surgeons will be a partner with you because we believe a key responsibility is to educate you and together identify the best treatment options. Our level of experience and education sets us apart from other surgeons in the greater Tampa area.

Call us today at (727) 300-2537 or use our online form to begin your healing journey.