Ask Dr. Strothman: What Is A Minimally Invasive Spine Fusion?
Spine pain can be caused by a number of conditions that create abnormal or excessive motion at a disc segment of the spine. This abnormal motion can create pinching of the spinal nerves and severe pain and disability. When this motion causes severe pain and inability to function that can’t be eased by conservative treatments, spine fusion surgery may be considered.
New minimally invasive techniques
“Traditionally, spine fusion surgery has been handled by a single large incision,” explains Summit Orthopedics spine surgeon Dr. David Strothman. “Advances in surgical technology have given us other options for fusion surgeries, including the use of minimally invasive spine fusion surgery techniques that enable us to perform spine procedures through smaller incisions with less collateral damage.”
Minimally invasive techniques are designed to cause as little trauma as possible to muscle, ligament, blood vessels, and internal organs. In cases where patients are good candidates for a minimally invasive fusion procedure, they experience several advantages.
Advantages of minimally invasive spine fusion surgery
- Minimally invasive procedures cause less tissue trauma.
- Because the incisions are small, there is less scarring.
- Less soft tissue damage leads to significantly less blood loss during surgery.
- Recovery is faster, leading to shorter hospital stays.
- Smaller incisions mean less postoperative discomfort.
- Often, patients can recover comfortably with less pain medication.
- Many minimally invasive surgeries can safely be performed in surgery centers instead of hospitals, significantly reducing infection risks.
Conditions where spine fusion can potentially be an option
“Whenever we consider surgical options with a patient,” says Dr. Strothman, “it is important to make a decision based on an assessment of the individual patient, and the suitability of the surgical option for the patient’s condition. Given appropriate circumstances, the following conditions may be addressed by minimally invasive fusion surgery:
- Spinal stenosis (pinched nerves)
- Herniated discs
- Synovial cysts
- Lumbar degenerative disc disease
- Lumbar spondylolisthesis
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis
- Degenerative spondylolisthesis
- Postlaminectomy spondylolisthesis
- Infections or tumors that cause a weak or unstable spine
- Spinal deformity
A thorough and conservative approach
“The first and most important step in the treatment of back pain is a careful anatomical diagnosis, including a thorough patient history, physical exam, and diagnostic studies to identify the source of the pain,” says Dr. Strothman. “Determining the primary source of pain is the greatest challenge. If conservative, nonsurgical treatments do not resolve pain for the patient, we will talk together about the surgical options, including minimally invasive surgery techniques, that are best suited to our patient’s condition—and our patient’s objectives.” Summit Orthopedics is home to the area’s top spine specialists for spine fusion surgery, with fellowship-trained spine surgeons.
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“Spinal disorders are complex and disabling. As your surgeon I will explain your diagnosis and treatment options, both operative and non-operative, in a way that you can understand thereby allowing you to make informed decisions. I am rewarded daily by improving the quality of life of patients receiving my care.”