Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Technological advancements have allowed neck and back conditions to be treated with minimally invasive surgical techniques. Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS) performs the same spine fusion as the traditional open technique, however several smaller incisions are made instead of one longer one. By treating spine problems MISS performs the same spine fusion as the traditional open technique. Using these techniques, damage to the soft tissue surrounding the spine is minimized and can result in less pain. 

Often, using MISS specialized instruments are used to access the spine through small incisions. While in traditional open surgery incisions can range typically from 5 to 10 inches long , MISS often utilizes multiple smaller incisions. By treating spine problems with less injury to the muscles, MISS takes advantage less bleeding, small incisions, and quick recovery. MISS procedure can take longer times to perform than traditional open surgeries and have to be individualized to patient needs.

Procedure of MISS

MISS procedures (laminectomy and diskectomy) are performed using special tools. During this procedure, a small incision is made and the special tool or tubular retractor is inserted through the soft tissues. The tubular retractor holds the muscles open and the spine is accessed using small instruments that can easily fit through the center of the tubular retractor. The removed material makes an exit through the retractor. In some surgeries, the surgeon is guided by fluoroscopy to see where to insert the retractor and place the incision. This procedure allows a display of real-time x-ray images of the spine on a screen throughout surgery. After the tubular retractor is removed, the muscles return (not returns) to their original position. This procedure limits overall muscular damage.

Common Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeries

MIS Lumbar Fusion

Open lumbar fusion is performed either through the abdomen, from the back, or from the side. During the minimally invasive lumbar fusion, the spine is approached through a smaller window and the damage to muscles, nerves and ligaments is minimized. The areas of the spine which are diseased are then carefully approached and the essential diseased elements are addressed. Instability is then stabilized, often using rods and screws along with bone graft. In this manner, the lumbar spine is made more robust and is able to move about with less pain.

MISS Lumbar Discectomy

A herniated lumbar disc that pinches a nerve can result in severe leg pain, weakness, or numbness. During MISS Lumbar discectomy, the disc is removed to relieve these symptoms. The patient is positioned facedown and a small incision is made, providing the surgeon with a view of the disc and the spinal nerve. The surgeon retracts the nerve and removes a portion of the diseased disc, thus freeing the nerve and relieving pain. This provides the surgeon with a view of the disk and the spinal nerve. The surgeon retracts the nerve, removes a portion of the diseased disc, thus freeing up the nerve and relieving pain.


Complications of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery are similar to any other operation. However, studies show a reduced infection rate and improved mobility for this type of surgery. Discuss the risks involved with your surgeon before undergoing surgery.


MISS procedures can shorten hospital stays. Though recovery time varies patient to patient, in general MISS patients go home within a day or two. By individualizing treatment to meet your specific needs, Dr. Shah may be able to use Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery to help you get back the quality of life you deserve.