Back pain and problems affecting spine rarely require surgeries. Standard treatments such as medications, physical therapy, and various preventative measures are successful in most cases. If these treatment options turn out to be unsuccessful for a period of time of time, around six months to one year, the healthcare provider recommends surgery. There are two main types of surgical procedures for the back, and they are invasive or open surgery and non-invasive. With the evolution of technology and science, minimally invasive operations are frequently used and throughout this article, we’re going to discuss the benefits of this procedures over the open back operation.
Open Back Surgery
Open or traditional surgery requires a large incision on patient’s back. In some cases, the surgeon has to cut the surrounding muscles and temporarily detach them to access the spine and affected area. Once the surgeon reaches the spine, he/she removes the damaged disc. Then, two vertebrae surrounding the empty disc space are fused together to stabilize the spine.
The fusion process requires a small metal cage, rods, and screws whose primary purpose is to make that portion of the spine immobile.
Non-invasive Back Surgery
Unlike open back surgery, non-invasive back surgery procedures don’t require a big incision. To reach the spine, the surgeon moves the muscles aside instead of cutting them. When reaches the affected area, the surgeon removes damaged disc and replaces it with the artificial one. In some instances, bone grafts from the patient’s body can be used to create additional support in the spine.
Benefits of Non-invasive Spine Surgery
With the constant progress of science, medicine, and technology, non-invasive back surgery gains popularity and effectiveness. Today, non-invasive surgery can offer similar clinical outcomes as open surgery, without big incisions and huge scars.
Main advantages of non-invasive back surgery over invasive counterpart include:
- Lower infection rate
- Smaller scar
- Shorter procedure
- Less patient pain
- Outpatient setting
- Quicker patient ambulation
- Faster recovery time
According to the study conducted by Kern Singh, a founder of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute at Rush, less blood loss is yet another benefit of non-invasive surgery. He discovered that open back surgery lasts around 3 hours and includes 400 to 500 ml of blood loss. On the other hand, the non-invasive procedure lasts about 75 minutes, and the patient loses about 40 to 50 ml of blood.
Furthermore, since the open surgery usually features unnecessary cutting of tissues and muscles to gain access to the affected area, patients have higher chances of infections, nerve damage, and other complications such as failed back surgery syndrome.
The excessive scar tissue that is a direct result of large incision could interfere with the fusion and pressing into a nearby nerve root thus creating more pain than patient experienced before the surgery.
It’s also important to mention that overall costs for non-invasive back surgery are significantly lower than open back operation costs.
The patient doesn’t experience too much pain and goes back to work sooner than it would be possible with open back surgery. Naturally, to get these benefits of non-invasive surgery, it’s important to consult a reputable surgeon regarding the procedure.