minimally invasive spine surgeryBack pain affects almost everyone at some point in their lifetime; it’s a very common issue. Suffering from pain in your back can cause a lot of discomfort and distress. Daily activities may become more difficult to carry out due to the agony you feel in your back. It can be caused by many different things, for example, a bad posture or lifting heavy objects incorrectly. However, it can also be caused by more serious conditions.

If you are experiencing back pain, visit your local doctor for a proper diagnosis. It may just be a pain that will go away in a few weeks or months, but if it is caused by a more serious condition, you should be referred to a back pain doctor. You may find that you are a good candidate for surgery in order to treat the condition.

What is minimally invasive back surgery?

Also known as minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS), this type of surgery is a procedure on the spine. The doctor will make small incisions so they can access the spine with specialized tools. The operation was designed so back problems could be treated, and there would be less potential for an injury to the muscles.
MISS has many advantages, such as less bleeding, small incisions, a shorter hospital stay, and in some cases, a faster recovery time. Minimally invasive back surgery has been used for many years now and is a very successful treatment. However, not all spine problems can currently be effectively treated using MISS.

Conditions that can be treated using MISS:

  • Spinal infections
  • Spinal instability
  • Spinal tumors
  • Herniated disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Spinal deformities such as scoliosis
  • Vertebral compression fractures

Choosing the right doctor

It’s really important to find a doctor that is an expert in what they do. You will want to look for a doctor who offers a full range of treatments for back pain. Whether you live in Seattle or San Antonio, find a specialist near you. When you have back pain, moving can become very troublesome, so finding a local surgeon will save you from having to travel around too much. The best way to find an expert back doctor is to look for someone Board Certified in Orthopedic Surgery.

When should surgery be considered?

There are many non-operative spinal treatments you should attempt before you decide to undergo spinal surgery. If you have tried all of the non-operative treatments, then surgery may be your only hope to relieve yourself from the back pain. Spinal surgery works well for conditions such as spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, degenerative scoliosis, and sciatica.

Surgery and treatment should be individualized to best suit the patient’s condition and diagnosis.

Before the surgery

Before your surgery, you will need to have an X-Ray and a CAT or MRI scan. This is to help with the minimally invasive back surgery as it will give a clear image of your spine and will also show up any infection, cancer, or nerve compression.

The procedure

For MISS procedures, surgeons will use tools called tubular retractors. Small incisions will be made, and the tool will be inserted through the skin and down to the spinal column. The muscle is held open by the tubular retractor so the procedure can take place. Using small instruments that fit down the tubular retractor, the surgeon will remove any disk material or bone. The entire surgery is performed through the small tunnel in the tubular retractor, although some surgeries may require more than one retractor.

Fluoroscopy shows real time X-Ray images of the patient on a screen. The surgeon is guided by fluoroscopy as this helps them to see where to cut the incisions and insert the tubular retractor. A microscope is also used so the surgeon can have a magnified view through the tubular retractor.


As with any surgery, there is always a possibility of complications.

Potential complications from MISS include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Recurring symptoms
  • Blood clots
  • Pseudarthrosis
  • Nerve damage
  • Pain at graft site

Your back pain doctor will provide you with full details of any possible complications before scheduling a surgery so you can make an informed decision.

After the surgery

Postoperative, you shouldn’t be in too much pain, but pain medication will be provided for you. Using minimally invasive spine surgery reduces hospital stay time so after you have undergone surgery, if there are no complications, you shouldn’t have to stay in the hospital for too long.


Recovery time can vary for every patient; some people can be fully recovered in 6 weeks or less while for others it may take more time. Attending physical therapy is a great and safe way to help you get back to your normal, everyday activities.

You will be provided with a brace after your surgery, but it is not essential that you wear it. The brace can help with comfort in the first few weeks after your surgery.