Spine surgery done the “classic” way is traditionally done with an open approach, meaning that the surgical area being operated on is opened with a long incision to allow full view and access to the anatomy by the surgeon. In recent years, there have been advances in technology that have allowed spinal conditions to be treated with the minimally invasive spinal surgery (MISS) approach.
Any type of spine surgery is usually recommended after a period of conservative, nonsurgical treatment such as medications, physical therapy and injections have failed.
Minimally invasive techniques have been used for a wide range of spine procedures, and have been used for common procedures like laminectomy surgery and spinal fusions since the early 1990s. Dr. Polin was educated in neurosurgery and orthopedic spine surgery and has been trained using the MISS techniques.
One of the disadvantages of the classic, open surgery is the retraction or pulling of the back muscles and damage it causes to the soft tissues. As a result, there is a greater risk for muscle injury to the spine which can lead to a longer stay and recovery in the hospital due to pain.
Minimally invasive spine surgery was developed to treat spinal problems with less injury to the muscles and structures of the spine. Since the MISS techniques include smaller incisions, the surgeon is able to see where the exact problem exists. As opposed to the open spinal surgical technique, MISS is safer and requires less recovery time and less rehabilitation. Since there is less or no muscle cutting, the risk of muscle damage is reduced along with postoperative pain, which in turn diminishes the reliance on pain medication or narcotics after surgery. Another advantage besides smaller incisions and shorter stay in the hospital are less blood loss during the procedure and reduced risks of infection.