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Minimally Invasive Spine

by Winston Fong, MD

The number of people who suffer from spine disorders is on the rise. And, so are the various methods associated with operative and non-operative care. However, in the world of operative care, Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) for Spine is a new procedure that is making a name for itself in the operating room and around the water cooler.

MIS for spine is a technique using small incisions to gain access to the spinal canal. Dr. Winston Fong, McBride Spine Surgeon, is on the forefront of the procedure in Oklahoma City and in the region. “The best way to describe MIS is a method of navigating the spine in a less-invasive manner. Traditional open (non-MIS) surgery requires a 10-inch incision with cutting and retraction on muscles. This injures the muscles, ligaments, and tendons and creates permanent damage. By using MIS, the spine is identified by x-ray, two half-inch incisions are made, then small and sequentially larger tubes are placed, one over another, to dilate (expand) the opening. This distributes force more equally on the muscles and causes less tissue disruption.” 

For many MIS spine patients, it means a shorter hospital stay (outpatient or 1 day), small scars, less blood loss, improved post-operative pain, quicker rehabilitation, and a more expedient healing process. Any patient who is a candidate for a traditional open surgery can be considered for an MIS procedure.

“Patients who suffer from chronic back pain can compare MIS spine surgery to arthroscopic surgery for knees and shoulders as well as laparoscopic surgery for the gall bladder & colon,” explains Fong. “Prior to this state-of-the-art technology, both procedures required a much more invasive approach and an extensive post-operative hospital stay. While MIS endoscopic spine surgery is a more technically difficult procedure for the surgeon to perform, the less-invasive approach provides better short-term and long-term results for many patients.”

As patients educate themselves regarding MIS spine surgery it is important to build a strong relationship, as well as work together with their surgeon to evaluate and discuss options after non-surgical treatment has been exhausted.