The trend in spine surgery like many other areas of medicine has moved toward performing surgeries in a less-invasive fashion. Spine surgical procedures are often referred to as either open or minimally invasive. Open procedures generally require larger incisions, more muscle stripping and hospitalization, and the patient usually needs more time to recuperate. Minimally invasive surgical techniques utilize portals, or tiny incisions made in the skin (percutaneous) through which small, specialized instruments are inserted. The operation is then typically performed under the microscope or with an endoscope. Some types of minimally invasive spine surgery use lasers, which are just one of several tools that may be used to separate or eliminate tissue.
Today many different types of spine surgery can be performed utilizing minimally invasive techniques. These include repair of herniated discs (discectomy), spinal decompressions, fusions, fracture repairs and spinal deformity corrections to name a few. This generally translates into less blood loss, less muscle damage and quicker recovery with a much lower risk of infection.