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Minimally Invasive Lumbar Surgery

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Minimally Invasive Lumbar Surgery

  • Dr. Charla Fischer
  • May 22, 2018

There are two main approaches to spinal surgeries that are commonly practiced today. One is traditional open surgery, which usually involves making a long incision along the spine to provide open access to the area needing repair. The other approach is minimally invasive lumbar surgery (MILS), a more advanced and newer method that often provides better results for patients.

Which surgery do I need?

Each of these two surgical approaches have their own advantages and reasons to be used in certain cases. A qualified physician such as Dr. Fischer at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City can correctly diagnose your back problem and recommend the ideal type of surgery for you. Some common lumbar surgeries that have high success rates using the minimally invasive method include lumbar fusion, lumbar discectomy, and lumbar laminectomy.

What does MILS involve?

One of the characteristics of MILS is that very advanced tools and instruments are used during the surgery. These tools are specially designed to fit through small surgical incisions, which is one of the best things about MILS. The basic steps you can expect if you undergo MILS include:

  • X-rays are taken to determine the exact location to make the small incision to gain access to the affected area of the spine
  • Special tools called trocars are inserted to allow other instruments to be used during surgery
  • Fluoroscopes are employed to guide the surgeon throughout the procedure
  • Real-time X-rays may be performed during MILS to aid in the process
  • After the repairs are made, all instruments are removed and surgical glue is used to close the incision

What are the benefits?

The small incisions and advanced tools used for MILS quicken patient recovery and lower risks of damaging nearby soft tissues. Both of these benefits serve to reduce post-operative pain for the patient. There is also less blood loss during MILS. Most patients have a significantly shorter hospital stay compared to traditional open surgery, and the recovery period is minimized. Going hand-in-hand with all of these benefits is the advantage of lowering patient stress throughout the process.

What is recovery like?

The benefits of MILS provide patients with shorter recovery times and easy-to-follow instructions after surgery. Specific post-operative care instructions vary upon the type of lumbar surgery, but typically the following guidelines should be followed:

  • Keeping the incision clean and dry
  • Regularly taking medications as prescribed by the doctor
  • Avoiding certain movements like bending or twisting for 6 weeks or more
  • Avoiding heavy lifting

Dr. Fischer will provide a list of instructions to help make your recovery a success.

What are the risks?

Any surgery carries risks with it, but MILS has fewer risks than traditional lumbar surgeries. Possible risks with MILS include infection, bleeding, reaction to anesthesia, or spinal nerve damage. Seeking the care of a skilled surgeon like Dr. Fischer at NYU Langone Medical Center can help you minimize surgical risks. If you believe you might need lumbar surgery, consider the MILS approach which has revolutionized patient care.  To schedule a consultation with Dr. Fischer, contact our office today.


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