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What is the Difference Between Minimally Invasive or Appropriately Invasive Surgery Techniques?

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Surgery done through small incisions, with cameras or scopes, or through tubes is what is commonly referred to as Minimally Invasive Surgery or MIS. This is a technique that has developed in many surgical specialties over the last couple of decades. Not all surgical problems can or should be done with these techniques.

There are limitations that these “minimal” techniques place on us as surgeons and spinal problems can often be very complicated. In general the more complicated the problem, or the more complex the surgery, the less likely that a limited approach with minimally invasive techniques will be appropriate.

The promise of MIS has been shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery with less pain. Unfortunately this has not been shown consistently with spine surgery, unlike abdominal surgery where these techniques are now routine.

Appropriately Invasive Surgery

For these circumstances that require a more extensive approach, we use the term “appropriately invasive surgery.” Dr. Richardson's approach is to make an incision that is no bigger than is needed to do everything that is required.

In some cases there will be smaller incisions and in others a larger or longer incision is unavoidable. Each patient’s spine problem is considered as a unique situation that takes into consideration a number of factors including the age, weight, and any associated medical problems.