Back and back-related leg pain is a very common complaint. These symptoms are usually due to a disorder in the lumbar spine such as a degenerative disc, a disc herniation or a malalignment of the vertebral bodies such as a lumbar spondylolisthesis. Patients will usually present with back and or leg pain. Diagnostic workup usually includes a physical examination and diagnostics studies such as x-rays and MRI/CT scan. Once the proper diagnosis is made, non-surgical treatment is often the first line of treatment and is commonly very effective in resolving the patient’s symptoms.
Traditional lumbar surgery although effective is often associated with large incisions, long hospital stay and at times a protracted recovery. The advent of minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) has allowed similar effective resolution of the patient’s symptoms but with much smaller incisions, faster recovery and the ability to perform these surgeries in an outpatient setting also referred to as outpatient spine surgery (OPSS).
MISS ranges from a laminectomy sometimes called a lumbar decompression to more involved operations such as lumbar fusion. Unlike a traditional surgical spinal surgery, the goal MISS is to minimize the size of the incision and the exposure of the spine, which lessens the amount of healing that is necessary after surgery. MISS uses specialized instrumentation like microscopes and specialized surgical instruments that allows the surgeon to avoid disrupting soft tissues such as muscles in the spine, resulting in less pain, less blood loss, reduced medication needs and ultimately a faster recovery. Therefore, MISS procedures are typically safer, quicker, and promote a faster recovery than traditional spine surgery.
While MISS often focuses on the size of the incision, it’s only one part of a larger concept of being minimally traumatic to the body and the muscles in the low back while performing these procedures in a more patient-friendly outpatient setting. A major advantage and advancement of MISS techniques are that it allows patients having spinal surgeries to return home the day of surgery rather than the traditional 3-5 days hospital stay.