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Minimally Invasive Surgical Spine Care

The spine surgeons at UPMC Passavant utilize the latest, minimally invasive surgery techniques to treat spinal disorders.

Minimally invasive surgery is effective for treating spinal disorders, at times, moreso than traditional spine surgery.

Minimally invasive spine surgery uses small incisions with the aid of microscopes or small cameras designed for viewing the body internally.

Traditional spine surgery involves removing large sections of muscles away from the spine, requiring a longer recovery time.

Benefits of minimally invasive surgical techniques include:

  • Reduced surgical complications
  • Reduced surgical blood loss
  • Reduced use of post-op narcotic pain medicines
  • Reduced length of hospital stay
  • Increased speed of functional return to daily activities

Minimally Invasive Procedures

In addition to artificial cervical disk replacement and spinal tumor surgery, our spine surgeons perform the following procedures:

Lumbar microdiscectomy

  • A minimally invasive approach to remove herniated disk material that places pressure on the spine and/or spinal nerves that travel into the legs.
  • Small incisions can typically be covered with a band aid.
  • Patients spend one night in the hospital and, in most cases, can go home the next day.

Lumbar laminectomy

  • A procedure to release pressure on the spinal cord and nerves that travel into the legs.
  • The surgeon makes an incision in the lumbar region to remove some or all of the back portion of the vertebrae (the lamina). This bony removal typically does not affect the mobility or stability of the spine.
  • Patients spend one to three days in the hospital. For some patients, transfer from the hospital to a rehabilitation or nursing facility, before going home, helps with continued therapies.

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF)

  • A procedure on the cervical spine to remove herniated disk material that is placing pressure on the nerves that travel into the arms or spinal cord.
  • The surgeon makes a small incision in the front region of the neck to access the spine with minimal trauma to the muscles. After the disk is removed completely, a small piece of bone graft is placed to occupy the disk space. Then a titanium plate is secured on the front of the vertebrae to hold the graft in place. 
  • Patients spend one to two days in the hospital, and most patients are able to be discharged home.

Spinal fusion

  • Some lumbar laminectomy patients also may need spinal fusion to secure the position of the vertebrae, using titanium screws and rods. Some patients require only bone graft placed without the titanium screws.
  • Since this procedure involves much more muscle dissection, patients typically have a greater initial level of postoperative pain.
  • Patients spend two to four days in the hospital and may need to transfer to a rehabilitation or nursing facility before going home.