Surgery is generally the last resort for treatments for spinal problems. Conventional spinal surgeries require surgeons to make five to six inch incisions along the spine, then use retractors to pull back muscle so that they have a clear view of the spine. This method allows the surgeon to effectively remove fractured, worn, chipped, or diseased bone, and intervertebral disks. However, the invasive nature of the surgery means that the patient may have a long convalescence and recurring pain.
Advances in modern surgical technology have led to the development of less invasive procedures for many chronic spinal problems. Typically in minimally invasive surgeries, surgeons use a combination of tubular retractors and real-time imaging techniques such as fluoroscopy. These tools radically reduce the size of the incision needed to gain both surgical access and adequate vision of the site, sometimes to less than an inch. This can result in less tissue and muscle damage, and a shorter convalescence for patients.
While minimally invasive spinal surgeries are a good option for many conditions, some spinal conditions may still require conventional surgeries. Only a medical professional can determine the treatment options for a given condition.