Minimally invasive spine surgery becoming technology-enabled

While patient concerns remain a significant driver in the development of minimally invasive techniques, technological advances in surgical instrumentation have transformed the theoretical to the practical. Advanced fluoroscopy, or x-ray imaging during surgery, has markedly improved the accuracy of incisions made and hardware placed. A variety of endoscopes, camera-tipped wands, can be inserted through small incisions and provide the surgeon with excellent visualization of the operative site. New surgical instruments were developed to work in tandem with endoscopes. The past several years have brought numerous innovations to spine surgery. These innovations include the development of imaging systems that interpret anatomical data for three-dimensional display; the use of lasers, ultrasonic frequencies, and high-pressure water jets remove tissue; and new monitoring devices that help the surgeon to optimally position instrumentation as well as to warn of potentially damaging neural contact during a procedure. Spine operations that lend themselves particularly well to minimally invasive approaches are intervertebral disc decompressions and discectomies. Progress has been made in adapting certain kinds of spinal fusion procedures to a minimally invasive approach, and certain forms of scoliosis of the thoracic spine have been treated with minimally invasive surgery.


Source:  MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #M510, "Spine Surgery: Products, Technologies, Markets & Opportunities, Worldwide, 2008-2017."

MIS has many enthusiastic supporters. However, caution needs to be exercised, as even though a technique is less traumatic, if the rate of successful spinal fusion is much lower, then there is really not an advantage. Also, it has yet to be demonstrated that minimally invasive spine fusion systems actually cause better outcomes than some other surgical techniques used in the traditional open approach.

Increasingly, minimally invasive techniques are becoming the preferred method for autologous bone graft procedures. Traditional procedures involve the surgeon making a 3- to 5-inch incision to harvest bone from the patient’s hip area, and some studies have shown that complications arise in nearly a third (31%) of these patients. These studies also show that about 27% of patients still feel pain in the hip area up to two years after the surgery.


4 thoughts on “Minimally invasive spine surgery becoming technology-enabled”

  1. Looks like Vertebroplasty just got blasted by the New England Journal of Medicine. They tested vertebroplasty in a far more rigorous way. They randomly assigned patients to get either vertebroplasty or a fake procedure in which patients were injected with local anesthetic but no cement. Researchers followed patients for a few months to see if there was any difference in pain or functioning. Guess what? “People who got a fake procedure did just as well as people who got the real thing”.

    Sometimes the shortest route is not the best route.

    James Monroe

  2. Indeed. I was still in the process of adding the exhibit from our prior spine surgery report and had not yet had a chance to add the footnote to the vertebroplasty data. Your comment beat me to it!

    It is indeed striking that the procedure has apparently shown no advantage whatsover compared to controls. It perhaps speaks to the invasiveness of spine surgery, the associated trauma and the chronic pain issue of spine problems that a minimally invasive procedure gained a position without having the data to support an actual advantage over alternatives (or nothing at all).

  3. Hey…this is a wonderful website buddy and an informative post!!! i am new here and i found this site very interesting and informative ,, you are a professional blogger i think i have a great interest in such things…thank you for the post buddy and keep on posting nice stuff like this ūüôā
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  4. It is interesting that I’m reading more and more about this procedure with out any statistical proof of the benefits. In a world full medical marketing for money could this be just another over priced procedure that delivers very little benefit to the patient.

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