For many years, spine surgery was performed as open surgery. However, new technological advances have made it possible for more back and neck conditions to be treated with minimally invasive surgical techniques, which benefit patients in a number of ways, including faster recovery times and reduced risk of complications.
Instead of the significant, open incision involved in traditional spinal surgeries, minimally invasive spine surgery, also known as MISS, uses a specialized tool called a tubular retractor in order to reach the precise area to be treated. This is a hollow tube that is inserted through a small incision. It allows the surgeon to visualize and access the targeted area while causing less trauma to the surrounding tissue and muscles. Surgical instruments and any necessary surgical hardware such as screws or rods can be inserted through the retractor and the entire procedure is guided by fluoroscopy—a type of real-time X-ray. This allows the spinal surgeon to meticulously repair and treat the affected area with great precision.