PLEASE NOTE: Our clinic moved on April 8, 2024. Our new address is:
5241 Six Forks Road, Suite 100, Raleigh NC 27609

Most people would probably prefer to never have surgery if the choice was up to them.  Unfortunately, there are certain times that surgery is necessary in order to help you improve, such as chronic back pain form a herniated disc that does not respond to other treatments.  If a surgeon determines that surgery is needed for your condition and you decide to go through with a certain procedure, it will be performed as either an open surgery or a minimally invasive surgery.

If you’ve heard the term minimally invasive surgery used before but don’t quite understand what it means, we’d like to break it down for you here and explain why it may address many of your concerns with surgery.

Minimally invasive surgery vs. open surgery

Minimally invasive surgery has been around for nearly 30 years, but its use has grown significantly in recent times.  As the name suggests, the goal of minimally invasive surgery has always been to operate in a less invasive way and cause less injury to the body than open surgery.

To accomplish this, minimally invasive surgical procedures are performed through tiny incisions instead of one large opening, which is how open surgeries are performed.  With smaller incisions, patients generally tend to have faster recovery times and less discomfort than if they were to have open surgery for conditions like back pain.

How it works

During a minimally invasive procedure, a surgeon will first make a number of very small incisions—usually less than one inch—in affected area.  Then, a long, thin tube with a miniature camera called an endoscope is passed through one of these incisions and projects the image it captures on a screen for the surgeon to see.  The surgeon will then pass a number of other special instruments through the other openings, and will use these to perform the surgery by exploring, removing or repairing the problem.

The name used for each surgical procedure is based on the location where it is performed.  A few examples include arthroscopy, which is performed inside of a joint, laparoscopy for the abdominal area, and thoracoscopy for the chest.

Advantages of minimally invasive surgery

Minimally invasive surgery has been found to lead to outcomes that are equivalent or possibly better than those from open surgery.  It also offers these additional advantages:

  • Faster recovery: with smaller incisions, the body will be much more likely to heal more quickly
  • Shorter hospital stays: minimally invasive procedures can be done on an outpatient basis (no overnight hospital stay), or will only require a short stay
  • Less scaring: most incisions are so small that they are hard to notice after healing
  • Less pain: smaller incisions will usually mean less pain than open surgery

At Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic, we offer a number of surgical procedures for a variety of neurological conditions.  Many of these procedures, including microdiscectomy, laminectomy and spinal fusion are minimally invasive or can be performed in that manner if it is applicable to your condition.  So if you happen to be suffering from back pain due to a herniated disc or some other disorder that won’t seem to improve, you may want to consider minimally invasive surgery.  Unlike open surgery, this type of procedure won’t require nearly much of your time and will have you recovered more quickly with a smaller scar afterwards.

Minimally invasive surgery is not appropriate for everyone, and certain injuries and conditions—like tumors, scoliosis and some infections—require open surgery.  The best way to find out if minimally invasive surgery is right for you, whether you’re dealing with back pain or any other issues, is to come in and speak with one of our experienced neurosurgeons.

Contact us at 919-785-3400 for more information or to schedule an appointment.