Minimally Invasive Surgery

GOWD minimally invasive spine surgery

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Surgery is considered as a last resort for many reasons. The most important centers around the risks presented to the patient by the actual procedure involving an incision, or an invasive entry, into the body. Many adults that have been through some type of surgery are willing to share the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of their experience. Minimally invasive surgical procedures offer reduced surgery procedural risks, faster recovery times, smaller scars, shorter hospital stays, and an overall easier surgical experience for many patients. This includes patients in need of spine surgery, but not every procedure or every patient may be a candidate for this type of surgical intervention.

The general definition of a minimally invasive procedure is simply reducing the level of “invasion” as much as possible to reduce the associated risks. The traditional methods used in opening an area of the body for surgery, such as the lower back due to injury or progressive disease, cause loss of blood, expose the opened wound to possible infection, often require cutting through muscle tissue or bone, may require heavy anesthesia, and in general, put the normal systems of the body under stress. After the surgery, recovery begins.

A few common areas involved with the recovery process include the healing of the surgical incision wounds, monitoring for possible systemic infections, returning bodily functions to normal, and waiting for the damaged muscle and bone to return to their pre-surgical state. Once the body recovers from the physical trauma of the surgery, physical rehab begins to help the patient recover, re-gain mobility, and get back to their normal life, hopefully in an improved state. While minimally invasive surgery clearly provides benefit in many of the areas just mentioned, there are still many concerns.

Not every surgeon is qualified to perform minimally invasive procedures. Surgeons that perform these procedures require long and intensive training, above and beyond traditional surgical training. The operating room staff of the hospitals also require intensive training to appropriately assist with patient care regarding the differences in the surgical procedures. And, while this type of surgery is becoming more common, not every hospital or surgical center is equipped with the very high-tech, robotic, and expensive equipment needed. In addition, minimally invasive surgery is not considered investigational, but even so, not every insurance provider may be willing to cover the costs of this expensive type of surgical procedure.

If you, or someone you know, has an upcoming surgical procedure, ask the surgeon about the possibility of a minimally invasive procedure. The surgeon will know how to guide the patient and their family, and subsequently how to best approach the third party provider or insurance company. Reduction in risk to the patient, much improved recovery time, smaller wound and scarred area, and shorter hospital stay, makes the question worth the asking.

References for this article are available upon request.
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