Open surgery on the spine involves an incision the length of the spine to allow the surgeon access to the anatomy and view it. Recent technological advances, however, have allowed more patients to undergo minimally invasive surgery for back and neck conditions. The muscles surrounding the spine are not significantly damaged by minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) since there is no long incision required. This usually results in less pain and quicker recovery after surgery.


A period of nonsurgical treatment – such as medications and physical therapy – will usually be recommended if those methods have failed to relieve the symptoms of your back problem. In addition, surgery will only be considered if your doctor can determine the cause of your pain, such as a herniated disk or spinal stenosis. During the 1990s, minimally invasive techniques were used to treat common spine procedures like decompression and spinal fusion. They are now being used for a broad range of spine procedures. By removing bone fragments or herniated disks, decompression relieves pressure on spinal nerves. Vertebral fusions correct problems with the spinal column’s small bones. A painful vertebra is fused together into one, solid bone to help it heal.

Why might I need minimally invasive spine surgery?

Back pain is not usually treated with surgery by most people. When you’ve tried medicine or physical therapy but have not been able to solve your back problem, your healthcare provider might recommend spine surgery. In case you are still in pain, you might need to undergo spinal surgery. The procedure, however, doesn’t treat all forms of back pain. Only if you have a problem that surgery might help, will your healthcare provider recommend spine surgery. Examples include:

  • Spondylolysis (a defect in a part of lower vertebrae)
  • Fractured vertebra
  • Removal of a tumor in the spine
  • Infection in the spine
  • Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
  • Herniated disc
  • Spinal deformities (like scoliosis)
  • Spinal instability

A MISS procedure may be an option for you if you are considering spinal surgery. It cannot be done with every type of spinal surgery. Moreover, not every hospital or surgical facility is capable of performing MISS.

What are the risks of minimally invasive spine surgery?

Risks are inherent in all surgeries. These are among the risks associated with minimally invasive spinal surgery:

  • Blood clots
  • Complications from anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Excess bleeding
  • Pain at the graft site
  • Nerve damage
  • Spasticity leakage. Headaches and other issues may result.
  • Your back pain is not sufficiently relieved

You may have different risks depending on your age, your health, and the surgery that you have. Surgery can be done at a facility that has experience with this method to reduce risks. Find out which risks are applicable to you by talking with your child’s healthcare provider.

How do I prepare for minimally invasive spine surgery?

Prepare for your surgery with the help of your healthcare provider. Describe all the medications you take to your healthcare provider. Such medications include over-the-counter medications such as aspirin. Certain medicines, such as blood thinners, may need to be stopped prior to the procedure. Stop smoking before your procedure if you smoke. Using tobacco affects healing. If you need assistance in quitting, speak with your healthcare provider.

Imaging tests may be needed before your surgery. MRIs and X-rays are common.

The night before your surgery, avoid eating or drinking after midnight. Let your physician know if you have experienced any recent health changes, such as a fever.

What happens during minimally invasive spine surgery?

A team of trained doctors and orthopedic surgeons perform MISS. Various aspects of MISS differ depending on where in the spine it’s being used. Your healthcare provider can help you understand your healthcare expectations. A standard MISS procedure might look like this:

You may experience numbness as a result of anesthesia. Additionally, you will be sedated. As a result, your consciousness will be preserved during the procedure. General anesthesia may also be used. As a result, you will not feel any pain during the procedure.

In the course of surgery, your vital signs, such as blood pressure and heart rate, will be monitored by your healthcare provider. Whether you receive antibiotics before or after surgery is up to you. Taking antibiotics before surgery helps prevent infection. You will be able to see the surgery on an X-ray taken by your surgeon during the procedure.

An incision will be made on the back of the area that needs to be treated by your healthcare provider. Through this incision will be inserted a tubular retractor. By doing so, the spine will be exposed for treatment.  The surgeon can pass light and a camera through it. A retractor and tools are removed from the machine once the repairs have been completed. Stitches, glue, or staples are used to close the incision or incisions.

What can you expect to happen shortly after minimally invasive spine surgery?

Outpatient MISS procedures are available for some types of MISS. You can usually leave the hospital the following day. A healthcare provider will need to watch for complications for a couple of hours following the procedure. It is possible that you will be in the hospital for one or more nights after surgery. Having someone drive you home will be necessary when you are ready to leave.

Following the surgery, you may experience some pain. Pain medications can assist in reducing your discomfort. Do not take over-the-counter pain medications unless your healthcare provider recommends them. You will usually feel better in a matter of days.

Your incision may leak a small amount of fluid. Nothing to worry about. In case of an increase in fluids, or if you have a fever or any pain that worsens, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible. In the event of the presence of severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or severe headache, contact your healthcare provider immediately. When you have back surgery, your healthcare provider will give you instructions regarding how to use it. Lifting and bending may be restricted. A back brace may be required for a period after the procedure. Additionally, physical therapy may be required after surgery. During the rehabilitation process, you are encouraged to strengthen the muscles around your back. Normal activities may not be resumed for several weeks of surgery. Please ensure you follow all treatment instructions and appointment reminders given to you by your healthcare provider. In this way, you can ensure the surgery goes smoothly.