Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Key to Achieving Motion Preservation

When touting the benefits of minimally-invasive spine surgery, patients hear most often that it is a way to approach correction of a chronic spinal condition with smaller incisions, less surgical complications and pain, and faster healing. While all of this is predominantly true, one of the aspects not frequently discussed or understood is the goal of minimally-invasive spine surgery: Motion Preservation.
Male surgeon in modern operation room Especially when it comes to replacement of discs in the lumbar spine as a means to correct degenerative disc disease, certain procedures and devices aim to correct the issue, prevent it from getting worse and preserve the patient’s range of motion all at the same time. When it comes to the overwhelming problem of back pain in America, those goals are critical. However, it isn’t enough to correct a degenerative spine condition if we don’t also attempt to prevent the condition from worsening or leave the patient with an undesirable quality of life. The bottom line is this: if “correction” comes at the expense of preventing a patient from actively living his or her daily life, was it actually “worth it?” Many patients say no. And many of us surgeons agree. This is the goal of motion preservation in minimally-invasive spine surgery.

For the most part, the chosen method of surgical treatment for degenerative disc disease is spinal fusion. In fact, multiple studies have shown that in comparing patients who chose non-surgical treatment options versus surgical options for the condition, the patients in the surgical correction group showed greater improvement in overall function and a higher rate of returning to work after surgery than the non-surgery group. Now this isn’t to say that non-surgical treatment options are worthless. Of course they aren’t. Quite a bit of conflict over which option is best simply comes down to time spent trying these methods. Spending years upon years of unsuccessful attempts at non-surgically treating a degenerative spine condition can result in that condition getting worse. When certain spine conditions worsen they can actually prevent the opportunity for minimally-invasive correction to remain an option – or worse, deny the patient any surgical options at all.

When you trust that your surgeon has your best interests in mind, it’s easier to make treatment decisions. We absolutely want to correct your spinal condition and restore you to pain-free living. Motion preservation techniques aim to do just that. What this comes down to is open and honest communication with your care team. When you trust what your team recommends and you feel as though your thoughts on the matter are considered, that’s when the best treatment decisions are made. It’s a team effort with a common goal – you getting back to life.