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Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery in Boulder

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

The advantages of minimally invasive surgery are nothing less than revolutionary. Compared to the standard open approach, minimally invasive spine surgery involves smaller incisions, less muscle damage, decreased blood loss and length of hospital stay following surgery. Boulder Neurological Associates surgeons are committed to advancing the field and offering innovative ways to solve our patients’ health problems. We were the first practice in the region performing minimally invasive spine fusions. BNA surgeons are heavily involved in research in this field and have since pioneered methods that been adopted worldwide. Recent landmark publications (AP vs TLIF paper [PDF], Iso-C Kyphoplasty [PDF]) have confirmed half the blood loss and shorter hospital stays compared to open surgeries.

Lumbar fusion is one of the most effective and time proven procedures. It effectively decreases back pain by eliminating motion at the painful spine segment. However, the surgical methods of performing this fusion are not without risks. Standard old-school, anterior-posterior surgical approaches require large incisions and are associated with significant morbidity. Similarly, standard of care posterolateral fusions requires a large incision and involves stripping the large bands of muscle tissue from the underlying spinal elements. While this provides the surgeon with a good view of the spine and room for performing the procedure, it also leads to increased postoperative pain, a longer recovery period, and increases the risk of complications. Minimally invasive lumbar fusion procedures achieve the same goals in a more patient-friendly surgical approach. Boulder Neurosurgical & Spine Associates surgeons have set a new standard using minimally invasive approaches to treat a variety of common conditions including degenerative disc disease, disc herniations, spinal stenosis, instability and compression fractures.

X-Ray of a minimally invasive pedicle screw placement | Anterior-posterior view.X-Ray of a minimally invasive pedicle screw placement | Lateral view.
Figures. Intraoperative anterior-posterior and lateral images – minimally invasive pedicle screw placement

Major surgeries that required a long hospitalization and large incisions now can be performed as outpatient procedures that allow speedy recovery and discharge. More spine procedures than ever before are performed in outpatient settings and this trend is constantly expanding.

The effectiveness of minimally invasive procedures is enhanced by the use of the StealthStation® treatment guidance system, which provides a surgeon with a way to navigate through the body using 3D images as a guide. This next-generation technology takes images from a variety of traditional imaging sources (Iso-C fluoroscopy, x-ray, ultrasound, CT, MRI) and transforms them into precise images used for planning and guiding surgical treatment without compromising surrounding neurological structures, muscle tissue or blood vessels. The precision provided by the StealthStation system lets BNA neurosurgeons focus on the exact location that needs to be reached during surgery.

An illustration of intraoperative image guidance
Please watch an animation, which describes intraoperative image guidance

Click this link to read more about Minimally Invasive technologies.

Should all patients have surgeries done using a minimally invasive approach?

Early clinical experience has demonstrated that minimally invasive fusion techniques offer theoretical patient benefits while still accomplishing conventional goals of the open procedure. Unfortunately, not all patients are perfect candidates for this approach. Only an experienced surgeon after an extensive clinical evaluation and consideration of all unique patient anatomical and pathological factors can answer this question.

We have performed thousands of minimally invasive spine procedures and learned from our experiences. We analyzed our clinical results by directly comparing the safety and efficacy of two different patient groups that underwent open and minimally invasive spinal fusion surgeries. This analysis concluded that both techniques are equally effective, and the minimally invasive approach is accompanied by less blood loss and length of hospitalization without significantly increasing operative time.

Click this link to read more about the results of this study.