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The positives and negatives of minimally invasive spine surgery

Mr Irfan Malik talks to us about his knowledge and experiences of minimally invasive spine surgery.


As a neurosurgeon, I am always looking for ways to improve surgical procedures that I can offer to patients, to improve their outcome after surgery. I have spent a large amount of my career working to improve the understanding and the scope of many minimally invasive and complex spinal surgeries as well as pioneering procedures including endoscopic and keyhole spinal surgery. I will start by explaining what minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) is.



MISS is an advanced technology that uses innovative technique to treat neck and back pain. Specialised instruments are used alongside excellent imaging to access the spine, this is instead of the traditional open spine surgery that would mean having a 5-6 inches incision in the back. With this new surgery, the incision is usually as small as 1 inch, meaning that the scar on the patient will be significantly smaller.


So, what are the pros and cons of the surgery?


Pros of MISS

  • Reduced risk of infection when compared to open back surgery

  • There is minimal loss of blood due to the tiny incision

  • Less scarring

  • Less soft tissue and muscle damage

  • Minimal pain involved during and post operatively

  • Rapid recovery time (post patients will be able to go home the same day as the procedure)


Cons of MISS

  • Unfortunately, only a handful of surgeons have the expertise to perform these procedures

  • Not all patients meet the criteria for this type of surgery. More challenging spinal injuries sometimes have to be operated on by open back surgery because of difficulty visualising the surgical field.

  • Minimally invasive is more technical and can sometimes prove difficult for your surgeon to perform for multiple level procedures.


Like any type of surgery, minimally invasive spine surgery still carries risks such as bleeding, strokes, infection and possible need for further surgeries. Even though the risks are low, it is still something that you should consider when deciding if you want to go ahead with the surgery.


After the surgery it is common for patients to be given post-operative instructions to follow. This will usually involve having light physiotherapy and continuing to be mobile for the first couple of days after the surgery. It is also likely that you will have further scans to ensure that the surgery has been successful and had the intended outcome.


By having minimally invasive surgery, it does not mean that it will more efficient or better than the traditional open back surgery, it simply means that it is just a different technique. By offering this to patients it means that they get the best care for their specific case.


If you are suffering from a back injury or back pain, then it is always worth getting it checked by a doctor. If a medical professional believes that surgery is the best route for you then a surgeon will be able to tell you the risks, benefits, complications and limitations that are associated with the surgery. In any consultation, it is always important that you voice your opinion to ensure that you have a full understanding of exactly what happen before any surgery or treatments takes place.


This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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