Outpatient Spine Surgery: A New Way to Look at Surgery

Alan S. Hilibrand, MD March 2nd, 2017

Learn about how minimally invasive surgical techniques are making outpatient recoveries possible.

Traditionally spine surgery has been an intensive procedure requiring an inpatient hospital stay and long recovery time. Open spine surgery involves a long incision and muscle retraction to access the problem area. With modern technological advancements minimally invasive spine surgery can be used to treat many conditions that previously required open surgery. Minimally invasive spine surgery is making outpatient spine surgery possible.

Minimally Invasive Techniques & Outpatient Spine Surgery

There are a number of techniques used to perform minimally invasive surgeries. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of minimally invasive procedures versus traditional open surgery which make outpatient spine surgery a possibility.

  • Generally safer with lower risk of complications.

  • Less blood loss and pain.

  • Reduced damage to muscles and soft tissue.

  • Shorter hospital stay and a quicker outpatient recovery.

  • A much smaller incision.

  • Smaller, less noticeable scars.

All of these improvements provided by minimally invasive surgery techniques are used to treat various back conditions. These factors contribute to making the surgery less intensive and enable patients to recover at home instead of at the hospital.

Two of the most common types of outpatient back surgery are spinal fusion and disc decompression surgery. Both of these surgeries can be performed using minimally invasive techniques that only require a very small incision and minimize the outpatient back surgery recovery time.

The Value of Disc Decompression and Spinal Fusion

Injury or general wear and tear over time may lead to degradation and instability in the spinal column. This can cause discomfort or weakness in the back, arms, or legs. A common cause of back related pain is spinal compression. This occurs when the cushioning discs between the vertebrae bulge, rupture, or compress. If non-surgical methods of treatment are unsuccessful in addressing the pain and immobility caused by this condition, then disc decompression and fusion may be recommended as treatment.

In a disc decompression surgery part or all of the injured spinal disc is removed. The surgeon may be able to remove only the portion of the disc which is pinching a nerve or otherwise causing discomfort, or it may be necessary to remove the entire disc. If the entire disc is removed, a process called a discectomy, which diminishes the disc’s ability to cushion the spinal components, prevent friction, and reduce grinding between the vertebrae. To prevent further degradation and discomfort it may be necessary for the surgeon to implant a bone graft to naturally fuse the bones together. The bone graft will heal after the surgery to create new bone between the vertebrae–providing stability and support.

Traditionally, these procedures would be performed using open back surgery. A long incision–about 5 or 6 inches–would be made on the back. The muscles would then be held back, or “retracted” to allow the surgeon to gain access and visibility. With minimally invasive techniques these procedures can now be performed with only a small incision. A metal, tubular retractor is inserted through the incision and provides the surgeon with a view of the area. The surgery is then performed using tiny, specialized instruments which are inserted through the retractor.

The disc decompression surgery recovery time is able to be significantly reduced using this procedure. If you or a loved one are in need of treatment for a spinal condition and are hoping for outpatient spine surgery, then consider speaking with the specialists at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute about your condition to see if you are eligible for a minimally invasive procedure.

To contact us for more information or to schedule an appoint with one of our specialists, visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.

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