Neuroscience

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery: The Fast and Effective Way to Treat Chronic Back Pain

As a neurosurgeon, the most rewarding aspect of my job is having the opportunity to meet patients, discover the etiology of the problem and help find a solution that can literally change lives – and few procedures help so many, so definitively, as minimally invasive spine surgery (MIS).

If you’re one of the estimated 30 million Americans living with chronic back pain, you know all too well that when your back hurts, it hurts your ability to go about your daily life. Taking a walk, spending time with your family, even working a desk job can be difficult, affecting your relationships, economic outlook, and quality of life.

Rather than living with the pain or turning to harmful and addictive painkillers, surgical options can offer you long-term results and help you get back to your regular activities. And, with MIS surgery, you can do so faster and with fewer complications than ever.

So what is MIS surgery and how is it different than traditional options?

While effective, the biggest problems with traditional surgical options is that, anytime you cut tissue, you compromise the integrity of the structure as a whole. So larger, deeper incisions greatly affect the healing process, as well as opening the body up to the possibility of infection. That means longer recovery time, scar tissue that can affect spine function, and more of a disruption to your everyday life.

With MIS surgery, we can correct many of the same issues, with smaller incision and by using the aid of computers to bypass muscle tissue rather than cutting through them. So whether it’s freeing up a pinched nerve, doing a complex spinal fusion or helping patients with scoliosis, we can treat patients without damaging the surrounding muscle or exposing the spine.

This is huge for a number of reasons:

For older patients, the blood loss and trauma with traditional surgery can be too much of a risk to undertake using traditional methods. But these same patients are good candidates for MIS surgery, benefitting from improved mobility, activity and quality of life.

In medicine, one of the biggest risks and biggest costs associated with surgery is infection and blood loss. With MIS surgery, the infection rate is less than one percent and, even with complex operations, complication rates are less than what you’d see using traditional methods.
Finally, less cutting, less trauma, and less structural damage means faster healing, faster recovery, a shorter hospital stay, and decreases the likelihood of future surgery. So you’re in and out of the hospital in hours, not days, and fully recovered in weeks, not months.

To learn more about MIS surgery and the specialized treatment programs available at the Taylor McAdam Bell Neuroscience Institute at Washington Hospital, click here.