Minimally Invasive Decompression Surgery

Lumbar decompression is a minimally invasive procedure designed to treat lumbar spinal stenosis. Lumbar stenosis is a condition resulting in narrowing of the spine. The narrowing of the spine is often due to bone spur formation, arthritis, thickening of the spinal ligaments or possibly bulging of the spinal discs. This condition is common in older people but may occur in young patients due to injury or hereditary component.

What Is Minimally Invasive Surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery involves a surgeon using techniques that limit surgical trauma to the body, such as the size and number of incisions. If the needed surgical procedure can be accommodated with minimally invasive surgery, it is preferred and often considered safer than traditional open surgery.

Symptoms Of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

  • Back pain and sciatica (or radiculopathy)
  • Pain in a leg, with possible weakness, numbness and tingling
  • May cause neurogenic claudication, which may result in pain, weakness, and/or numbness with standing or walking

How Minimally Invasive Decompression Surgery Works

This minimally invasive surgery offers patients with lumbar spinal stenosis, or central canal lumbar spinal stenosis, an option when they have experienced little to no pain relief following conservative treatments such as physical therapy, oral medications, or spine injections.

  • A skin incision about 1 inch long is made to one side of the middle of the back at the surgical level
  • Dilators are used to access the back part of the spine. A retractor is then placed to hold the muscle tissue back and allow surgical access to the spine using tools that include a microscope
  • Specially designed surgical instruments are used to remove bone spurs and the lamina on the side of the approach
  • The anterior part of the lamina on the other side may then be removed where ligaments and discs may also be checked

Benefits of Minimally Invasive Decompression Surgery

As opposed to open spine surgery, minimally invasive surgical approaches may require less recovery time. Because of the reduced trauma to the muscles and soft tissues, potential benefits are:

  • Better cosmetic results from smaller skin incisions (sometimes as small as several millimeters)
  • Less blood loss from surgery
  • Reduced risk of muscle damage, since less or no cutting of the muscle is required
  • Reduced risk of infection and postoperative pain
  • Faster recovery from surgery and less rehabilitation required
  • Diminished reliance on pain medications after surgery