Minimally invasive spinal fusion and dynamic stabilization procedures have provided relief to many patients suffering from back pain and other disorders. While spinal fusion has been performed for decades, the procedure often involved large incisions and long recovery times. Newer techniques enable neurosurgeons to provide their patients with relief from pain and a shorter time before they are able to resume their normal activities.
Dr. Navraj Heran, a neurosurgeon at False Creek Healthcare Centre in Vancouver BC, explains how minimally invasive spinal fusion and dynamic stabilization work and how they can help patients with a variety of debilitating disorders.
Spinal Conditions Requiring Fusion and Stabilization Surgery
Some of the conditions that require surgeries of this type are degenerative disc disease, lumbar spinal stenosis, herniated discs, scoliosis, infections, instability, tumors, and fractures. In these cases, the spine is not able to support itself without surgical intervention. Patients often experience a great deal of pain and a reduction in movement.
Advantages of Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery
Minimally invasive spinal surgery has many advantages over traditional surgery. With minimally invasive surgery, doctors are able to work with incisions as small as 2 centimeters. They experience less blood loss. There is much less risk of muscle damage resulting from the muscles being moved to allow the surgery to be done.
Postoperative pain and infection are reduced. Patients recover more quickly from surgery, and they require less rehabilitation. They are also less likely to need pain medications after surgery, leading to better outcomes.
Some minimally invasive spinal surgeries can even be done under local anesthesia, eliminating the risks associated with general anesthesia.
Since the spine is surrounded by bodily tissues, muscle must be moved to make room for the surgery. To perform these surgeries with as little muscle damage as possible, they are sometimes done with microscopic cameras or instruments through the incision. When this is not possible, the muscles can be moved out of the way using progressive dilation.
This approach allows for the placement of tubes to keep the muscle mass to the side. Endoscopes or microscopes can also be placed which make the surgery less invasive. When the surgery is complete, the tubes are removed so that the dilated muscle can return to normal. This approach presents a significant improvement over traditional surgeries that involve the cutting and reconstruction of muscle tissues.
Stabilizing the Area
Many patients will need screws or rods to keep their bones in place while they heal. Minimally invasive techniques allow for these screws to be placed percutaneously, or through the skin. This makes it much easier for physicians to remove the screws after the bone has healed.
Dynamic stabilization is a different way to ensure the stability of the spinal column. Rather than fusing the bones together, dynamic stabilization involves stabilizing the spine with flexible rods. This allows patients to have more mobility than with spinal fusion surgery. Dynamic stabilization has an advantage over spinal fusion surgery for many patients because it reduces the risk of problems commonly caused by metal spinal implants.
Dynamic stabilization surgery can help patients keep more mobility than with spinal fusion procedures. Spinal stabilization can also take the pressure off the discs and joints in the spine.
Rapid Advancements in the Field
Spinal surgery is advancing rapidly, and more patients who had previously experienced pain and suffering are able to receive proper treatment. With the procedures of minimally invasive spinal fusion and dynamic stabilization, patients with spinal problems will have a better quality of life, fewer surgical complications, and less dependence on pain medications after surgery. Dr. Navraj Heran encourages all patients with spinal disorders to inquire about these two surgeries.