Performing minimally invasive surgery through narrow tubes can help patients suffering from worn and painful spinal disc degeneration. New findings also show that minimally invasive techniques take the same amount of time for surgeons to perform as more invasive "standard" procedures (following a learning curve).
Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC) researchers studied 230 patients and found that the minimally invasive option helped shorten a patient's length of stay, and reduced blood loss, operative times and surgical complications. The researchers also noted that time in the operating room dropped significantly during the five-year study period, demonstrating a positive learning curve.
The study, published in a recent issue of the journal Neurosurgery Focus, was led by Dr. Roger Härtl, the Leonard and Fleur Harlan Clinical Scholar at WCMC and chief of spinal surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Before the minimally invasive options, surgical removal and repair of worn spinal discs meant long and painful rehabilitation. The invasive surgical option involves large incisions in the abdomen and/or back, including cutting away muscles to reach the area of pain. Now, minimally invasive techniques, which employ small cuts and fine instruments, allow surgeons to spare muscle tissue, speeding patients back to their normal lifestyle.