How Does Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Work?

In September’s first DFW blog, we talked about some of the basics of minimally invasive spine surgery, which is used more and more for a wider range of procedures. This is good news for patients, as they can achieve the same results without anywhere near the same pain and recovery as is involved with open surgery.

In this second blog, let’s get into a couple techniques used by Dr. Tinley in these surgeries.

Minimally invasive decompression

Due to osteoarthritis, the facet joints on the back of our vertebrae begin to enlarge and develop bone spurs. At the same time, our spinal discs are degenerating, thinning and becoming less malleable. This makes it easier for the outer shell to tear and the inner gel to push outward. This is a herniated disc, and now that disc material is pushing on nerve roots or the spinal cord itself. All of this narrowing of the spaces in the spine is called spinal stenosis.

In patients with stenosis in only one or two levels, minimally invasive surgery is usually possible. Bone spurs and arthritis is removed from the spine where nerves are compressed using two tubes or retractors that are often less than one inch in diameter. A high-powered surgical microscope is used through one of the tubes so that the nerves can be safely seen and protected throughout the operation. This smaller, incision, less muscle disruption, and preservation of more of the patient’s anatomy usually makes for a quicker recovery and a faster initiation of physical therapy.


Minimally invasive spinal fusion


In order to stop movement between two vertebrae and to eliminate chronic pain that has not responded to conservative and other treatments, it may be the best option to fuse the two vertebrae together, removing the damaged spinal disc in between the two vertebrae.


Dr. Tinley can do all of this through an incision that is about an inch and a half. As with decompression, retractor tubes are used to insert the high-powered surgical microscope, along with the instrumentation used to fuse the two vertebrae together.


He is able to remove the damaged areas of the disc, bone spurs, and other tissues pressing on the nerve roots exiting the spinal canal or on the spinal cord itself. He then inserts rods and screws to lock the two vertebrae together. Bone graft material is taken, usually from the hip, and is then placed against the vertebrae. It will grow and attaches permanently to the spine, typically covering the rods and making the two vertebrae into a single unit.


It’s amazing, but all of this can be done through minimally invasive spine surgery with Dr. Tinley.


Are you having chronic back pain or pain down through your buttocks into your legs? You may have spinal stenosis in your lumbar spine. Please call us at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, (817) 916-4685, and schedule a consultation.

Posted in: Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MIS)

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