Benefits of a Minimally Invasive Approach
Easier, Faster Recovery
With minimally invasive spine surgery, you’ll have less post-procedure pain, a shorter hospital stay and an easier recovery. You’ll be able to return to your normal activities more quickly.
Preserves Nearby Muscles and Tissues
Minimally invasive techniques use much smaller incisions and cause less damage to nearby muscles and soft tissues, as compared to traditional open surgery. This also means a smaller scar.
Treats a Variety of Conditions
We can use minimally invasive spine surgery to treat a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease and/or nerve compression, spinal tumors, spinal instability and a host of other conditions.
What is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
Minimally invasive spine surgery, sometimes referred to by the acronym MISS, harnesses technological advances to surgically treat neck and back conditions. The specifics of minimally invasive spine surgery depend on the area of the spine and the condition being treated.
The standard method of spine surgery, called open surgery or open back surgery, involves making a long incision down the back. The muscles and soft tissues are moved out of the way and, occasionally, tissue has to be removed in order to access the spine.
With minimally invasive spine surgery, Dr. Choi makes smaller incisions through which he gently moves aside muscle and tissue and inserts tiny surgical instruments. During the procedure, he utilizes state-of-the-art imaging tools to visualize the spine in real-time. This approach preserves muscle, tissue and the healthy areas of the spine. It also results in a shorter recovery period, less trauma and bleeding, less postoperative pain and a smaller scar.
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Procedures
- Lumbar Disc Microsurgery
- Percutaneous Pedicle Screw Instrumentation
- Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
- YESS Discectomy
- Minimally Invasive Interbody Fusion
Lumbar Disc Microsurgery
Lumbar disc microsurgery is a minimally invasive procedure done to remove the herniated portion of a disc in the lower back that’s compressing the nerves and causing sciatica.
When performing the microsurgery, our Long Island spine surgeon, Dr. Choi, makes a small incision in the lower back right above the herniated disc. He then uses a special medical microscope to visualize the disc and pinched nerve root.
With a clear view of the area, Dr. Choi gently moves the nerve aside and removes only the herniated part of the disc. The healthy portion of your disc remains intact, so it can continue to provide support and cushioning for your spine.
Percutaneous Pedicle Screw Instrumentation
Percutaneous pedicle screw instrumentation is a procedure performed to provide stability and fusion when treating spinal pathologies, including tumors, deformities, trauma and degenerative diseases. We know, it’s a mouthful, so let’s break it down:
- Percutaneous is a minimally invasive surgical technique using small incisions.
- Pedicle refers to the stub of bone that connects the front and back of a vertebrae.
- Fixation means using hardware to stabilize the spine.
When performing this type of minimally invasive surgery, Dr. Choi uses CT guidance for maximum precision and accuracy. He first makes a small incision before inserting cannulated needles into the center of the pedicle where the screw will be placed. He then replaces the needles with a guidewire, or k-wire, a screw and a rod. This stabilizes the area.
Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is a type of minimally invasive neck surgery. The procedure is performed to remove a damaged disc. By taking pressure off the spinal cord and nerve roots, any corresponding pain, weakness, tingling and numbness will be decreased.
Our Long Island spine surgeon begins by making a small incision in the front of the neck, which provides a more uncomplicated pathway to the spine, decreasing the risk to the spinal cord and nerves. Through this incision, Dr. Choi carefully moves the muscles, arteries and windpipe aside. He makes another incision in the outside layer of the herniated disc and removes the soft, inner core.
After removing the disc, Dr. Choi places a bone graft in its place, which is the fusion portion of the procedure. The graft prevents the space from collapsing, and as new bone grows, it will permanently fuse the upper and lower vertebrae together. Finally, to ensure maximum stability during the healing process, Dr. Choi screws a small titanium plate to the front of the bones.
The YESS discectomy, or selective endoscopic discectomy, is another type of minimally invasive spine surgery that is performed to treat disc problems. Dr. Choi uses cutting-edge technology to access the spine and remove herniated disc material.
Dr. Choi begins the procedure by making a tiny, keyhole incision through which he inserts a guide wire to the herniated disc using x-ray guidance. He then inserts a small tube and an endoscope, which is attached to a surgical light and camera. This gives Dr. Choi a full view of the disc and surrounding structures without requiring a large incision.
Using miniature-sized instruments, Dr. Choi removes only the herniated, or damaged, disc material to decrease pain and other symptoms. Since the unaffected portion of the disc will be left, your spine will remain stable.
Minimally Invasive Interbody Fusion
Minimally invasive interbody fusion surgery is performed to treat degenerative disc disease and/or nerve compression. Interbody fusion procedures used to be done as open back surgery, which required a large incision down the length of the back and involved trauma to the spinal tissue and muscles. The recovery period would last from several weeks to months.
Our Long Island orthopaedic spine surgeon, Dr. Choi, uses a dramatically different, minimally invasive approach. He makes a small incision and inserts a tube through the skin. The whole surgery is completed through the tube with tiny surgical instruments.
During the fusion surgery, Dr. Choi places a bone graft to join two or more vertebrae together. He may also insert screws and rods to hold the spine in its new position and encourage a successful fusion. The end result is a strong, stable spine and relief from pain with less trauma and an easier, shorter recovery.
Am I a Candidate for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
Not every patient with chronic neck or back pain requires surgery, minimally invasive or otherwise. However, if you’ve exhausted all conservative measures, your pain isn’t improving and your condition is impacting your quality of life, surgery could be an option.
While for some people, traditional open back surgery will be more effective, many patients can benefit from a minimally invasive approach. As a top Long Island minimally invasive spine surgeon, at your consultation, Dr. Choi will evaluate your diagnostic records, perform an exam and go over your health and medical history. This will allow him to determine if you’re a candidate for this type of surgery. If you are, he’ll discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure, so you can make an informed decision.