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Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

  • Category: Spine & Neck
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: NOI Staff

Due to recent advances in technique and equipment, there are many spinal disorders that can now be corrected with minimally invasive spine surgery. Dr. Richard Lee, a spine surgeon at NOI, is now performing some minimally invasive spine surgeries on an outpatient basis at the Orthopedic Surgery Center of Orange County, located in the same building as NOI in Newport Beach. Dr. Lee took some time to answer a few questions about minimally invasive spine surgery.

What is minimally invasive spine surgery?

Dr. Lee: “Minimally invasive spinal surgery” describes a set of operative techniques that represents a continuum in the development of modern spinal surgery techniques. The advent of newer tools for use in spinal surgery allows surgeons to access the spine and perform procedures with lesser degrees of anatomy dissection and tissue disruption. The intended goal with development of minimally invasive spinal surgery techniques is to promote faster recovery after surgery through less dissection of tissue.

How big is the typical incision?

Dr. Lee: As tools and techniques have evolved, the sizes of the operative incisions required for safe surgery of the spine have decreased in length in many types of operations. The main factors in determining the necessary length of an incision are the type of surgery and the size of the patient. For example, a procedure to correct a large scoliosis curvature affecting many levels of the spine would require a larger surgical exposure than an operation to treat a single level disc herniation. A one level disc herniation surgery can often be performed through a one inch incision when performed on an average sized patient.

What are the advantages of minimally invasive surgery techniques?

Dr. Lee: Developmental efforts in minimally invasive spinal surgery techniques are focused on attempting to disrupt less structurally important body tissues such that a patient can recover faster after surgery. Some disruption of body tissue will necessarily occur whenever any surgical procedure is performed on the human body. When less disruptive dissection is performed, a patient can potentially return to function quicker as less healing is required from the surgical dissection process itself.

What spinal conditions can be treated with minimally invasive surgery?

Dr. Lee: Many of the common spinal disorders requiring surgery can now be treated with minimally invasive surgical techniques. This includes disc herniations, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, degenerative spinal conditions, spinal fractures, and even some types of scoliosis.

How long is the stay after surgery?

Dr. Lee: Some minor spinal disorders such as disc herniations can be treated with outpatient surgery. Many patients are able to be discharged after an overnight stay even with spinal fusion surgery. In general, larger scale surgeries will require longer hospital stays.

Typically, how long is the recovery process?

Dr. Lee: Recovering after a spinal surgery is most affected by the overall physical condition of the patient at the time of surgery. Healthier patients will generally recover more quickly than those with medical comorbidities. Spinal surgeries performed with the latest minimally invasive techniques help patients recover function and mobility faster through less extensive dissection of body tissues.

Outpatient Minimally Invasive Surgery

For the healthier patients, minimally invasive spine surgery can be performed safely in a surgical center that is equipped for spine. Dr. Lee performs minimally invasive spine procedures at Orthopedic Surgery Center of Orange County (OSCOC), which is located in the same building as Newport Orthopedic Institute in Newport Beach. OSCOC is an ambulatory surgery center that is affiliated with Hoag Hospital and Hoag Orthopedic Institute. Being an orthopedic center, the primary focus for the team is the needs of the orthopedic patient and family. The level of care and ratio of nurses to patient is high at 1RN for every 1-2 patients. In addition, all anesthesia care is provided by the anesthesia group at Hoag Hospital. The Board certified physicians are kept up to date with safe care and best practice for anesthesia and pain management.

Minimally invasive spine surgery at OSCOC can provide a unique value to patients. OSCOC is a free standing surgery center that does not access hospital rates. OSCOC is currently in-network/contracted with all major payers in California and has been since 2000. Patients can access the contracted rates for all services through their insurance benefits. OSCOC’s high quality outcomes and high patient satisfaction scores, along with the preferred pricing makes it a high value center for patients. We can provide information about a patients out of pocket costs prior to surgery. Also, being well versed in the costs, OSCOC and the physicians can offer competitive cash rates that are bundled with the facility costs, anesthesia care, surgeon fees and more. This provides transparency and peace of mind for the patients when considering minimally invasive spine surgery.

While most minimally invasive spine procedures do not require overnight stay in a facility, there are certain times when this is a good option. OSCOC has private patient rooms for 23 hour recovery care that are staffed by 2 highly trained nurses, the ratio of nurse to patient is 2RN for every 1-3 patients. This is available when pre booked and needed for specific procedures. In addition, OSCOC has a Medical Travel program that has been in place since 2008. We have protocols and experienced staff to assist patients who travel from out of Orange County.

For more information on Dr. Lee and minimally invasive spine surgery, please call (949) 722-5071.