Phoenix Neurosurgeon

Minimally Invasive Spine SurgeryPhoenix, AZ

Minimally invasive spine surgery relieves the spinal nerves from any excess pressure while stabilizing the vertebral bones and spinal joints. It is a quicker and safer alternative to open spine surgery, which also requires a longer recovery time. Minimally invasive spine surgery is a viable option for various neurological conditions, including bone spurs, herniated discs, scoliosis, and more.

Minimally invasive spine surgery is available at Randall Porter, M.D., in Phoenix and the surrounding area. Take the first step to relieving your pain. Call us today at 602-603-8951 to schedule an appointment or learn more about our services.

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Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery vs. Open Spine Surgery

Minimally invasive spine surgery has many advantages over open spine surgery. Open spine surgery tends to be a riskier and more time-consuming process, especially when accounting for recovery. While open spine surgery utilizes a long incision down the back, minimally invasive spine surgery uses smaller incisions. This causes minimal harm to the muscles and tissues — hence the name.

These smaller incisions also make for minimal scarring and better aesthetic results. In addition, the patient will suffer less blood loss and have a reduced risk of muscle damage, infection, and post-operative pain. All of these factors will help expedite recovery, leading to a reduced need for rehabilitation and pain medications after the operation.

Conditions Treated by Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Not everyone who has back pain will need spine surgery. However, minimally invasive spine surgery may benefit those with excessive pain that has not gotten better with other forms of treatment (e.g., medicine or physical therapy). While minimally invasive spine surgery cannot repair all forms of back problems, it can address many common conditions. These include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Fractured vertebra
  • Herniated discs
  • Infection in the spine
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Removal of a tumor in the spine
  • Spinal deformities (including scoliosis)
  • Spinal infections
  • Spinal instability (including spondylosis)
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Vertebral compression fractures
  • Spinal tumors

Patients should also keep in mind that not all forms of spine surgery can be done through a minimally invasive process. Dr. Porter can go over the best treatment methods for each unique case through a one-on-one consultation.

What Happens During Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Just as every patient is different, so is every minimally invasive spine surgery. Our dedicated team can provide a detailed account of what to expect for each patient’s unique case. In general, however, patients will undergo some form of anesthesia to numb parts of the body. They may undergo sedation or general anesthesia so they do not feel any pain, and we may prescribe antibiotics before and after the surgery to prevent infection.

During the operation, we will keep a close eye on the patient’s vital signs, such as their heart rate and blood pressure. Dr. Porter will also view the operation through a special type of X-ray. After making a small incision (or incisions) in the affected area, he will insert a tubular retractor into the cut, exposing the part of the spine that requires treatment. Small tools, such as a tiny camera and light, will pass through the retractor, at which point Dr. Porter will begin repairing the spine. Once he has completed the repair, he will remove the tools and retractor and close the incision(s) with stitches, glue, or staples. He will also bandage the wound.

Common Treatment Options in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Since minimally invasive spine surgery can treat a wide array of conditions, it is only fitting that there is a similarly large breadth of treatment options available. While the field is still continuing to develop, some of the most common treatment options in minimally invasive spine surgery include:

  • Discectomy
  • Spinal decompression
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF)

Disectomies involve surgically removing any abnormal disc material pressing on the spinal cord or a nerve root. These treat herniated discs. Spinal decompression surgeries treat spinal stenosis by removing any affected bone and soft tissues with tubular dilators and a microscope or endoscope. Spinal decompression is most commonly performed via laminectomies and foraminotomies. Finally, TLIF is typically used for patients with refractory mechanical low back and radicular pain. In this procedure, the patient lies on their back while the surgeon makes two small incisions to place screws and rods in between at least two vertebral levels. They will also remove the intervertebral disc and replace it with a cage filled with bone.

Candidates for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

As mentioned earlier, there is no one-size-fits-all best treatment method for back problems. Instead, it varies on a case-by-case basis. Patients interested in minimally invasive spine surgery should speak to Dr. Porter about their diagnosis, overall health, lifestyle, prior level of function, and surgical goals. These factors are all crucial in determining whether minimally invasive spine surgery will be the right choice.

It is also crucial to keep in mind that minimally invasive spine surgery is typically best for patients whose condition has not progressed too far. Those with more severe cases affecting multiple vertebrae may benefit more from an open spine surgery. In any case, it is always best to talk with a surgeon before making any final decisions.

Call Us Today

If you are suffering from severe back pain, minimally invasive spine surgery may be right for you. We at Randall Porter, M.D., can help. Call us today at 602-603-8951 to schedule an appointment or learn more about our services.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I prepare for minimally invasive spine surgery?

Maintain an open and honest dialogue with all your healthcare providers. Tell every physician on your team about all the medications you are taking, including any that you get over-the-counter. If you smoke, you will need to stop before surgery. Do not eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery, and let us know if you experience any recent changes in your health.

How soon will I be able to go home after minimally invasive spine surgery?

It depends on the type of surgery you have. Some types of minimally invasive spine surgery are done on an outpatient basis, meaning you can return home on the day of the operation. However, you will still need to stay for a few hours of observation, in case we spot any problems. Alternatively, you may need to stay in the hospital overnight for at least one or more nights. In any case, you will need to have someone drive you home after the procedure.

What should I expect after minimally invasive spine surgery?

It is normal to experience some pain after the operation. However, any discomfort should be relieved via pain medications — either over-the-counter or prescribed. Usually, the pain will subside fairly quickly. You can go back to eating a normal diet as soon as you feel comfortable doing so. It is also normal to experience some fluid leaking from the incision. If the leakage increases, call us right away.

What is the healing process like for minimally invasive spine surgery?

You will likely need to limit lifting or bending and wear a back brace for some time after the operation. You may also require physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the spine. Dr. Porter can give you the most detailed account of what to expect and how to best recover.

What are the possible complications of minimally invasive spine surgery?

Every surgery comes with its own set of risks. For minimally invasive spine surgery, these include blood clots, complications from anesthesia, excessive bleeding, infection, leaking of spinal fluid, nerve damage, and pain at the graft site. Each patient also has a unique risk profile going into surgery. Dr. Porter can speak to you about minimizing these risks and maximizing your safety to help put your mind at ease.

Contact Us

Randall Porter, M.D. is located at
2910 N 3rd Ave Ste A
Phoenix, AZ

(602) 603-8951