Frequently Asked Questions
If you have chronic neck or back pain and nonsurgical treatments haven’t helped, minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) may offer a solution. This treatment was introduced over 20 years ago and has grown in popularity since then. Here are the answers to some common questions about MISS that you may find helpful if you are considering this type of surgery:
What Is MISS?
Traditional spinal surgery requires incisions two to six inches long, considerable muscle dissection and full spinal exposure. MISS requires small incisions from one-half to one inch long. Using tiny tools called retractors, surgeons enter the spine through the small incisions and soft tissues to arrive at the location where the surgery is needed.
Disc and bone material is removed using the retractor, and any devices used for fusion are inserted through the opening. Because the area is so small, the surrounding bones, muscles and nerve bundles are not injured. Most procedures can be completed in under 90 minutes.
How Do I Know If MISS Would Work for Me?
If you’ve had six to 12 months of chronic back or neck pain that hasn’t been relieved by conservative treatments or chronic pain that has gotten worse, MISS may be right for you. Degenerative scoliosis, sciatica, spinal stenosis, herniated or ruptured discs, spondylolisthesis, sciatica nerve compression or trauma, degenerative disc disease, spondylolysis and small spinal canal tumors can all be treated with MISS.
What Are the Benefits of This Procedure?
The benefits of MISS include a speedier recovery, less postoperative pain, less chance of infection, less possibility of muscle damage, fewer scars and less likelihood of needing a transfusion because of blood loss.
How Long Is the Recovery Time?
MISS is often performed on an outpatient basis. Many patients can walk immediately after the procedure with minimal pain and return home within a few hours. However, if the procedure involves a fusion, a one- to three-day hospital stay may be required. Patients are usually able to resume work within one to three months; those with desk jobs might resume part-time work within one or two weeks. Full activity could be resumed as quickly as six weeks. Pain medication is usually required during the recovery process.
Will I Need Physical Therapy?
Most patients benefit from physical therapy. It strengthens the muscles around the spine and encourages a return to full function and flexibility. Therapy typically starts two to six weeks after the procedure, and it can speed up the recovery process.
What Are the Disadvantages of MISS?
MISS is a newer treatment than traditional open back surgery, so it carries a greater degree of uncertainty and risk. In most cases, problems are due to a lack of training and/or skill on the part of the surgeon. Complications can include nerve injury, ongoing pain, infection and inadequate decompression, although these risks exist with traditional open back surgery as well.
To learn more about whether MISS would be right for you, visit the Center for Diseases and Surgery of the Spine in Las Vegas or call us for detailed information.