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Minimally Invasive Lumbar Surgery

Spinal surgery can be performed by two different approaches; one is the conventional open surgical approach and the other is the advanced minimally invasive approach. Each approach has its own advantages and preferences. However, the minimally invasive technique is a more advanced approach with a higher success rate and a minimal level of patient discomfort.

A minimally invasive technique is more beneficial for a few lumbar surgeries. Some of the common minimally invasive lumbar surgical procedures include lumbar discectomy, lumbar fusion, and lumbar laminectomy.

 Procedure for Minimally Invasive Lumbar Surgery

As compared with the conventional open surgery, minimally invasive surgery requires small incisions and highly advanced tools for the surgery, which hasten the recovery and decrease the chances of damage to the surrounding soft tissues. The basic steps involved in minimally invasive lumbar surgery are as follows:

  • X-ray imaging is employed to decide the precise location of the small incisions, to approach the affected segment of the spine.
  • Specially designed portals called trocars are then inserted through these incisions to aid in the use of the operating instruments.
  • The entire procedure is conducted under fluoroscopic guidance.
  • During the surgery, real-time X-ray imaging through the C arm assists in the use of specially designed instruments such as sextant device. Sextant device is employed for drilling a tunnel into the spine for fixing the screws and plates which stabilize the spine.
  • After the procedure, all the instruments along with the portals are removed and the incisions are closed with surgical glue.

Advantages of Minimally Invasive Surgeries

Minimally invasive lumbar surgery has many advantages over the conventional surgical procedure, which include:

  • Minimal damage to the adjacent tissues
  • Reduced post-operative pain
  • Reduced hospital stay
  • Shorter recovery phase
  • Reduced blood loss
  • Minimal patient stress

 Post-Operative Care

The patient who undergoes a minimally invasive surgery requires a shorter period of post-operative care as compared to that of a patient undergoing open surgery. The post-operative instructions depend upon the type of surgery. However, a few general instructions for patients after a minimally invasive lumbar surgery include:

  • Keep the incision clean and dry
  • Avoid movements such as bending and twisting, for at least 6 weeks
  • Regular intake of the prescribed medications
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects

Risk Associated with Minimally Invasive Surgeries

As with open surgery, the possible risks associated with minimally invasive surgery include infection, reaction to anesthesia, bleeding, and damage to the spinal nerves during the procedure. 



Houston Methodist Orthopedics
& Sports Medicine

6445 Main St. Suite 2500
Houston, TX 77030

Houston Methodist Orthopedics
& Sports Medicine

5505 W. Loop South Fwy
Houston, TX 77081