For those suffering from low back pain or radicular pain that may be caused by spine conditions, such as degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, or scoliosis, some options do not require major operative care.
Image source: wfdd.org
Minimally invasive spine surgeries involve fusing two or more vertebrae together using bone grafts either from the patient’s pelvic bone or a donor to add strength and stability to the spine. It is also considered only when extensive non-surgery therapies have been exhausted.
Image source: medscape.com
The common minimally invasive surgeries done on the spine are the following:
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF): With this method, the vertebrae are reached by creating an incision in the middle part of the back. Two small bone graft spacers are placed on each side of the interbody space.
Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF): TLIF has recently gained popularity as a refined version of PLIF. The vertebrae are accessed from the side of the spinal canal, minimizing the trauma to the spine, the amount of muscles dissected through, and nerve manipulation.
Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF): Instead of operating on the spine through the back side, the incision is done on the front side of the body, cutting through the muscles in the lower abdomen. The muscular strength and function are still preserved after the surgery and recovery.
Extreme lumbar interbody fusion (XLIF): XLIF is a relatively new fusion procedure that works on the anterior side of the spine through one or two incisions on the patient’s side. It uses special retractors, a fluoroscopy machine, and monitoring equipment. XLIF may be less painful and usually, results in a shorter recovery period.