Minimally invasive spinal surgery, or MISS for short, is a surgical method used to treat a variety of spinal disorders. It is characterized not only by the use of a smaller incision than in conventional open spinal surgery, but also by the use of advanced technology and innovative techniques. According to our Florida orthopedic specialists, the main goal of MISS is to minimize muscle and soft tissue damage caused by the surgery while accomplishing results equivalent to those of conventional open spinal surgery.

During MISS, a number of different techniques can be used depending on the condition being treated. In general, a tubular access approach is utilized. By using a tubular retractor, the force on the muscles around the incision is divided more equally than during open surgery, thus creating less localized pressure and reducing the risk of muscle and soft tissue damage. In some cases, MISS may be performed using endoscopy, which involves a tiny video camera guiding the orthopedic surgeon by displaying the internal view on several monitors in real-time, or by fluoroscopy, which is a type of intraoperative real-time X-ray.

MISS can be used to treat a number of different disorders, including degenerative discs, herniated discs, spinal tumors and compression fractures. It commonly involves either decompression, which is used to alleviate the pressure of the spinal cord or nerve roots, or fusion, which is used to stabilize and/or fixate the spine.

What Are the Advantages of MISS?

There are a number of benefits associated with the use of MISS rather than open surgery. In addition to the reduced risk of tissue damage, MISS is also associated with less intraoperative bleeding, a shorter hospital stay (only two to three days, approximately half that of open surgery), less postoperative pain and need for pain medication, a quicker return to your everyday life, a lower risk of infection and better cosmetic results. However, it is important to keep in mind that MISS is not right for everyone, and although it is generally considered safe, it is associated with some drawbacks.

What Are the Risks of MISS?

Compared to conventional spinal surgery, MISS is more technically demanding and more technology-dependent and is associated with a much steeper learning curve for the orthopedic surgeon. In addition, the surgical field is limited, and the operative time is longer. As with open spinal surgery, there is always a small risk for infection, bleeding and pain and nerve damage, especially if the orthopedic surgeon has limited experience with the procedure.

Of course, any type of spinal surgery should only be considered after all conservative and non-invasive treatments, including physiotherapy, have failed and after thorough consultation with an orthopedic surgery specialist.

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