The idea of undergoing surgery can be overwhelming. Many people associate surgery with traditional open surgeries which involve making a large incision to perform the procedure. And, with any large cut to the body, scarring, pain, and discomfort are sure to follow.

However, open surgeries with large incisions aren’t the only type of treatment option that may be available to a patient. Minimally invasive treatment options provide an alternative to open surgeries in some instances to effectively treat a patient’s condition with less scarring, pain, and recovery time.

While minimally invasive treatments do require an extensive amount of precision and skill to successfully complete the procedure, these treatments are oftentimes a better alternative relative to some open surgeries.

If the fear of intensive open surgery is holding you back from getting surgery in the first place, talk with your doctor to see if there are any minimally invasive treatment options available.

doctor explaining spinalcord

Minimal Invasive Meaning

Minimally invasive refers to a type of surgery that uses either small or no incisions to successfully complete the surgery. Minimizing the length and number of incisions during surgery inevitably creates fewer visible scars, which is a major benefit of minimally invasive surgery.

Minimally invasive surgery provides a variety of benefits from shorter recovery time to less pain and discomfort, and more, which will be discussed in greater detail later in this article.

What is Minimally Invasive Surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery uses certain techniques to minimize the size and number of incisions created during the procedure. While minimally invasive surgery is still a type of surgery, it does differ greatly from traditional open surgery. This is because open surgery involves the surgeon making a large cut into the patient’s body to operate on, whereas minimally invasive makes a series of small cuts.

In minimally invasive surgery, surgeons can reduce the size of incisions by using small instruments that reduce the size of incisions. Because of the nature and level of precision required to successfully do minimally invasive surgery, robotic technology may be used in some cases to assist in the procedure.

What’s the Difference Between Invasive vs Noninvasive Surgery?

It’s important to understand the difference between invasive vs noninvasive surgery to further understand what category minimally invasive treatments fall under.

Invasive Surgery

Invasive surgery is any procedure that involves invading the body, oftentimes via cutting the skin to then inserting medical instruments to perform the procedure. There are varying types of invasive surgery such as traditional open surgeries that involve one large incision for the surgeon to perform the procedure. Minimally invasive surgery also is a type of invasive surgery as it uses small incisions to then insert/use small instruments to assist with the procedure.

Noninvasive Surgery

Noninvasive procedures do not involve any form of cutting/breaking the skin to perform the procedure. Because noninvasive procedures lack any cutting of the skin, this means there is no scarring involved. Some examples of noninvasive procedures include a standard eye exam or CT scan.

Advantages of Minimally Invasive Surgery

From shorter recovery time to less pain, minimally invasive surgery offers many benefits to patients.

Smaller, Less Visible Signs of Scarring

One of the most significant advantages of minimally invasive surgery is that it minimizes the size of incisions. Unlike traditional open surgeries that involve making a large cut, tiny cuts are created that thus make scarring minimal post-procedure.

Faster Recovery Time/ Shorter Hospital Stay

Because minimally invasive surgery involves smaller cuts, recovery time is much faster compared to open surgeries. Therefore, rather than spending a few days at the hospital, most patients who undergo a minimally invasive procedure can typically go home the same day.

Less Pain and Discomfort

Smaller incisions typically equate to less pain felt relative to open surgery procedures. Therefore, with less pain and discomfort felt post-treatment, fewer pain medications need to be taken by the patient.

Overall Safety (Less Blood Loss & Risk for Infection)

Smaller incisions also reduce the risk of developing an infection and there’s an overall lack of blood loss during a minimally invasive surgery over traditional open surgery. This is again because an open surgery involves a large cut into the body which inevitably results in greater blood loss.

Disadvantages of Minimally Invasive Surgery

While minimally invasive surgery has several advantages, some disadvantages cannot be ignored.

Not for all Patients

Not everyone is an ideal candidate for minimally invasive surgery, and minimally invasive surgery techniques cannot be used in all cases. For instance, women who have already had prior open surgery in and around their belly can potentially face greater risks.

Not all doctors can perform minimally invasive surgery

Just because minimally invasive surgery involves smaller incisions doesn’t mean it’s easier. Surgeons must have undergone special training and have certain equipment to safely and effectively perform minimally invasive surgery. Therefore, don’t expect all doctors to be qualified to perform minimally invasive surgery.

Types of Minimally Invasive Treatments

There are many different types of minimally invasive treatments. Depending on the patient and their exact needs for requiring the procedure will dictate which treatment method may be right for them.

Below are some different types of minimally invasive treatment approaches and the unique techniques they use:

  • Arthroscopic Surgery: A minimally invasive procedure where a surgeon makes a tiny incision near your affected joint to insert a device called an arthroscopy, which is a thin video camera. This video camera can enter into the incision to help the surgeon examine the joint damage, and in some instances, repair the joint damage.
  • Bronchoscopy: A treatment that uses a bronchoscope (tube with light and camera) to enter via the patient’s nose or mouth to better examine and diagnose lung issues from blockages to a foreign body that may be blocking the airway.
  • Endoscopy: A device called an endoscope (tube with light and camera) is used to examine the patient’s digestive tract.
  • Hysteroscopy: A lighted telescope (hysteroscope) is inserted through the vagina and cervix to see the inside of the womb. This may be done to assess uterine bleeding, and in some special cases remove fibroids, polyps, and scar tissue. No incisions are made.
  • Laparoscopy: This minimally invasive treatment option was one of the first-ever types of minimally invasive treatments and involves making a few small incisions and then inserting a tube with a light and camera attached (a device called a laparoscope). The laparoscope can help the surgeon see and perform surgeries precisely by sending real-time imaging to the surgeon via a video monitor.
  • Robotic: Robotic technology can help surgeons effectively treat and navigate complex areas of the body that require utmost precision. Surgeons can use robotic technology by using robotic arms to perform the surgery while sitting at a console to manually maneuver the arms to perform the surgery. The surgeon can also see their progress via a 3D image monitor.
  • Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS): Small incisions are made in the chest so a small camera (thoracoscope) and surgical instruments can be inserted to then examine and treat issues in and around the chest area, lungs, etc.
  • Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS): A minimally invasive treatment for spinal stenosis where the surgeon uses a tubular retractor (a tube-shaped tool) which can then be used to create a tunnel to the problem area so the surgeon can operate on the area of the spine requiring treatment.

Overall, while there are several different types of minimally invasive treatments, a majority of the treatments follow the same approach of using a small camera and surgical instruments to enter the body (through small incisions) to help diagnose and treat the patient.

Pain and Spine Specialists Offer Minimally Invasive Treatment Options

The thought of undergoing surgery to relieve your pain symptoms can be anxiety-provoking, so much so that some patients might disregard any surgical options to relieve their pain entirely.

However, if nonsurgical treatment options have been ineffective at relieving your pain, you shouldn’t have to tolerate your pain symptoms for the rest of your life. There are minimally invasive treatments available to reduce your pain symptoms that can provide a better alternative to traditional open surgeries. This way you can get back to living a happy, healthy lifestyle rather than modifying your life around your pain symptoms.

At Pain and Spine Specialists, we offer a series of treatments, including minimally invasive treatments, to help safely and effectively manage your pain.

Some of the minimally invasive treatment options we offer include:

If you’ve tried several nonsurgical treatment options without much success at effectively reducing your pain, minimally invasive treatments can be the next step you’ve been looking for to better manage your symptoms. Our team of advanced pain specialists can help guide you through which treatment may be right for you, so you can get back to living your normal, healthy life.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you better manage your pain.

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