Spine surgery has developed a lot over the last century. Doctors first began trying to conduct spine surgery in the 1800s but it was primarily used in attempts at curing children of back issues they were born with. Fast forward to the First World War and we begin to see spine surgery become more common, and as a result, advances in technique are developed. However, even as these techniques were developed, spine surgery was still seen as more of a last resort. By the 1970s, our medical knowledge and techniques were capable of actually providing more effective and long term treatment. The downside at this point in time was how big of an opening needed to be made to conduct the spine surgery. This often caused damage to the surrounding muscles and left the patient with limited mobility during recovery and often a lot of pain.
Fortunately, new technologies have given us minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) in the last two decades. Minimally invasive spine surgery doesn’t require a long incision to be cut which, as mentioned before, reduces damage to the muscles surrounding the spine and usually leaves a patient in far less pain than an open spine surgery would. Due to the little amount of disturbance required by the surgery patients generally recover faster, too.
Let’s take a look at a few of the different technologies which have made minimally invasive spine surgery so viable today.
Microscopic cameras now allow doctors, like James K Kaufman MD, to cut a very tiny slit through which the miniature camera attached to a wire can be inserted and directed. This development prevents doctors from needing to make 5-6 inch incisions and damage surrounding muscles and soft tissues in order to see the area in which they will perform the surgery. The damage caused previously forced many patients to have lengthier hospital stays and experience new types of pain as muscles healed afterwards.
Computer guidance is the next advancement that came along with miniaturized cameras. The ability for computers to help guide surgeons and their tools to exactly the right spot made procedures far more accurate and reduced the risk of causing damage to surrounding areas of the spine.
Tubular Refractor is a tool which allows doctors use all of the equipment mentioned above and make sure all of it is in the right place too. The surgeon creates a small incision and inserts the tubular refractor in through the skin and soft tissues down to the spinal column. The refractor acts as a tunnel via which the surgeon can insert the camera and tools needed to fix the problem with the spine. Depending on the scope of the problem a surgeon sometimes has to insert more than refractor.
Thanks to these technologies and other advancements in science and medical knowledge being made on a regular basis, spine surgery has become a far more viable option for people who have tried physical therapy and other treatments which have proven ineffective.