What is minimally invasive surgery?
The term minimally invasive surgery can be somewhat controversial, and can mean different things to different people. Minimally invasive surgery generally means surgeries that are performed with smaller incisions, less tissue trauma, less blood loss, and less pain than the standard operation, but provide results as good or better than a standard more invasive surgery.
Although minimally invasive surgeries are not appropriate for everyone, the majority of patients can be treated with minimally invasive or less invasive options.
The type of minimally invasive surgery varies based on the goal of surgery. Examples of minimally invasive spinal surgeries include lateral approach interbody fusion, percutaneous pedicle screw fixation, and other spinal operations performed through small incisions, tubes or tubular type retractors, and/or microscopes. These types of surgeries often result in better outcomes, less complications, and improved patient satisfaction compared to standard open operations, which in many cases can result in permanent injury to the back muscles.
It is important to always ask your surgeon how much experience they have performing minimally invasive surgery, as a somewhat different skill set is required to perform these types of surgeries. As always, it’s important to ask your surgeon whether they track their own patient outcomes and can report these to you. Minimally invasive surgery options also apply to peripheral nerve and cranial surgery, and examples include mini open carpal tunnel release, image guided stereotactic brain surgery, and gamma knife.
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