Not Your Father’s Back Surgery

October 31, 2016

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Leads to Faster Recovery

Dr Berkowitz smallMost all 20th century back surgery was done via “Open Surgery.” In this more traditional approach, the doctor makes an incision that is 5 to 6 in. long and “opens” or moves the surrounding tissue to access the area needing surgical treatment.  Now, thanks to advances in technology and technique, patients can have Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS), which uses a small (one inch or smaller) incision, along with specialized instruments, to gain targeted access to the problem area in the spine.

The benefits of MISS come from less surrounding tissue disruption and damage. As Dr. Robert Berkowitz, MISS specialist at The Center for Orthopedics explains, “With this minimally invasive technique, we can get to the affected area with a small tube, and in doing so, dial right into the problem spot. This means less ligament, muscle and bone disruption in the surrounding area, which leads to less bleeding, less pain, and faster recovery time.”  The MISS procedure can be used to treat herniated discs, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis and chronic leg or back pain. Fusion, laminectomy and microdiscectomy surgeries can all be done with MISS, which is a technique also used in cervical (neck) spinal surgery.

Dr. Berkowitz sees MISS as a great option for those suffering from herniated discs. “With minimally invasive spine surgery on a herniated disc, I will spend 30-45 minutes in the operating room. Essentially, we make an incision less than an inch long, remove the part of the disc impinging on the nerve, and then you go home the same day.  Most people have immediate relief of their pain. The bottom line is that those with less pain can start physical therapy sooner and then see a reduction in recovery time.”   

While patients can appreciate faster recovery, as a surgeon, Berkowitz appreciates the risk reduction associated with MISS. “I have not yet had to give an MISS patient a blood transfusion. Going minimally invasive significantly reduces that risk.”

Considering the obvious benefits of MISS, patients might wonder why open surgery is still common practice. One reason is that open surgery makes more sense for those with multi-level problems and diseases. Too many problems would lead to a higher volume of small incisions and at some point the larger incision simply makes more sense. However, for those with one or two level problems or disease, using a smaller incision is often the better option.   

But, according to Berkowitz, even those who are ideal candidates, are not always offered MISS, simply because the practice is not yet commonplace. “In fifteen years time, MISS will be standard care, once the technology and training comes further into the mainstream,” he says, “In the meantime, there are surgeons with additional training and experience who do MISS as their standard, and, for many patients, this can be more advantageous than traditional open surgery.”

If you’re interested in learning more about MISS as a treatment option, call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Berkowitz at The Center for Orthopedics. 330.329.2800.

Robert Berkowitz, MD is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive surgery of the spine and was the first surgeon in Lorain County to perform a cervical disc replacement.  A visit with Dr. Berkowitz will ensure you treatment with the most current state of the art technology available today for operative and non-operative spine conditions.   

Entry Filed under: Back and Spine. Posted in  Back and Spine .



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