Posts Tagged ‘minimally invasive spine surgery’

Is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Right for You?

Minimally invasive spine surgery can treat back and neck pain with a smaller incision, faster recovery and less pain. When nonsurgical spine treatments don’t relieve your spine and neck pain, spine surgery may be your best option. Thanks to new technology and advanced imaging techniques, minimally invasive spine surgery is now an option for some.

Benefits of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

In traditional spine surgery, your surgeon makes a 5- to 7-inch incision and moves muscle to get to your spine. This invasive approach puts you at greater risk for infection, muscle damage, scarring and pain. You can also expect a long recovery.

Minimally invasive spine surgery is a game-changer. Its benefits include:

  • Smaller incision
  • Less injury to muscles around the spine
  • Less bleeding
  • Less pain
  • Shorter hospital stay (an average two to three days)
  • Faster recovery

Am I a Candidate for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

Minimally invasive spine surgery is typically used when doctors can pinpoint the damaged area of the spine, such as with a herniated disc or lumbar stenosis. This procedure may be right for you if you have a condition like this.

How Does Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Work?

Your surgeon makes a 1-to 2-inch incision (ideally the length of a small paperclip) and inserts a thin device called a tubular retractor. He or she feeds tiny surgical tools through this thin passageway to remove disk or bone.

We offer many minimally invasive spine procedures at Emory, including:

Want to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery?

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About Dr. Michael

michael-keithBuilding on his training and practice at Duke and Emory, Keith Michael specializes in using both minimally invasive and traditional spine surgery techniques to treat cervical and lumbar spine problems. Each surgical procedure is tailored specifically to address the patient’s pathology and clinical complaints, while trying to minimize morbidity and downtime.

His research interests included clinical outcomes measurement, patient education tools and cost-effectiveness studies.

Minimally Invasive XLIF Spine Surgery Can Speed Recovery Time

Dr. Tim Yoon, spine surgeonDr. Jim Rothermel, a retired ob/gyn, had been living with back and leg pain for more than three years. He was told that he needed extensive open spinal surgery. However, he came to the Emory Spine Center for another opinion and met with Dr. Tim Yoon, an internationally recognized spine surgeon and expert in minimally invasive techniques. Dr. Yoon diagnosed Jim with stenosis and scoliosis. His condition would typically require complex open spinal surgery, but Dr. Yoon determined that using a less invasive method, the XLIF technique, would reduce the stress on his body and reduce recovery time.

XLIF (eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion) is an approach to spinal surgery in which the spine surgeon accesses the intevertebral disc space and fuses the lumbar spine from the side rather than from the front or the back. By going through the side of the body with a small incision rather than through a large abdominal incision, much less soft tissue is traumatized, resulting in a faster recovery. XLIF may be an option for patients who have scoliosis, spondylolisthesis (where the vertebrae have slid in relation to one another), or spinal stenosis. These diagnoses typically causes leg pain and back pain.  When XLIF is used to perform a simple one-level fusion surgery, the patient often is able to go home the next day.

The XLIF technique can also be used to access multiple different discs and may be combined with other procedures, such as minimally invasive screws, to handle more complex cases, like Jim’s. This less-invasive approach can make surgery an option for people who, in the past, might not have been chosen surgery because of the prolonged recovery time or because the doctors thought the surgery was too invasive for a frail patient. Therefore, XLIF allows surgeons to treat more spinal conditions and different types of patients.

Emory spine surgeons have extensive experience performing a wide variety of spine surgeries. They know when the minimally invasive approach won’t be effective or should be combined with a bigger surgery. “Not everybody is going to be best treated by an XLIF, but I know who will be, and I choose those people,” Dr. Yoon says. “That way, you maximize the best results and minimize any likelihood of complications.”

Jim and his wife, Midge, couldn’t be happier with Dr. Yoon and their experience at the Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital. Jim says, “Dr. Yoon spent quality time with me. He thought he could do this XLIF procedure with a three-level fusion. He explained it in detail and then referred me to a website. I looked at the procedure carefully and thought it sounded like the proper way to go about doing it. He scheduled the surgery for two stages. We did the XLIF on a Monday, and he was able to do it in a manner that wasn’t muscle cutting. The recovery time was markedly improved.” Three days later, Dr. Yoon performed the second stage of the surgery, and a few days after that, Jim went home.

“Jim was extremely uncomfortable for over three years, and to see the difference in him now is just an absolute miracle. He’s happy. He’s always been a big teaser and silly, and I’ve got him back again,” Midge says.Have you had XLIF spine surgery, or would you like to learn more about spine surgery at Emory? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.