Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MIS) is a general term used to describe a variety of surgical techniques which involve making smaller incisions and reducing the amount of tissue damage beneath the skin. In spinal surgery, minimally invasive surgery is accomplished with the aid of specially designed instruments which assist in visualization of the surgical field. Typically, this is done with tubular retractors which allows the surgeon to make a small incision but visualize a larger area beneath the small incision. Spine surgeons who perform minimally invasive spine surgery should be fully trained in the correct use of these techniques.
Newer areas for minimally invasive techniques include the fusion of two vertebrae together and expanding endoscopic procedures (meaning: the surgery is performed through little holes in the skin as opposed to a larger incision). The field of minimally invasive spine surgery is growing rapidly and the overall trend is toward more minimally invasive techniques and new procedures.
The potential benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery may include smaller scars following the operation and less damage to the surrounding tissues beneath the skin, meaning less pain and blood loss. The potential outcomes of such operations are the reduction of pain and morbidity associated with standard open surgery. At the moment there is insufficient data to show that minimally invasive spine surgery provides any short and long term benefit to patients when compared to traditional spine surgery.