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 Surgical treatment options: Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

For many years, traditional spinal surgery has usually involved making a large incision up and down the middle of the back, and spreading apart (or retracting) the back muscles to access the spine. This is commonly referred to as an "open" technique. One of the advantages of open techniques is that the large incision provides the surgeon with easy access to the spinal anatomy. The downside of "open" spine surgery is that the muscle retraction damages the spinal muscles and can cause significant post-operative pain . In addition, such surgery results in significant blood loss, a large scar and relatively long recovery times.

While in many instances "open" techniques are still preferred, more and more conditions are now being surgically treated using new techniques called minimally invasive (or minimal access) spine surgery. Dr. Akbarnia and his staff at the San Diego Center for Spinal Disorders (SDCSD) are well trained in these new spine surgery techniques, and offer minimally invasive spine surgery as an alternative to open surgical techniques.

What is minimally invasive spine surgery?
As the name suggests, minimally invasive spine surgery allows the surgeon to make smaller incisions in the skin and avoid large muscle retraction. In certain situations, the surgeon uses a thin telescope-like instrument, called an endoscope, which is inserted through a small incision. A tiny video camera and light are connected to the endoscope and send images from inside the body to a screen in the operating room. Small tubes are then inserted through other small incisions. Special surgical instruments are inserted through these tubes and used to perform the surgical procedure.

Advantages of minimally invasive techniques
Minimally invasive spine surgery generally results in the same surgical outcome as with more traditional techniques. However, there are a number of advantages to minimally invasive techniques, including:

Our Use of Minimally Invasive Techniques
At SDCSD our priority is providing the best care for our patients. For this reason, we offer a variety of minimally invasive techniques that we feel are scientifically proven, but we avoid others that remain unproven or are not right for a particular problem. The minimally invasive techniques we offer include:

Dr. Akbarnia and his staff only adopt new techniques when their safety and quality are clearly proven. However, once these proofs have been provided, we are at the forefront of adopting new technologies and techniques for the benefit of our patients.