The phrase “minimally invasive” describes a surgery that makes small surgical incisions to reduce trauma to the body. The overall goal is to lessen postoperative pain and blood loss, speed up recovery time, and reduce scarring. Usually, surgeons use thin needles and an endoscope to visually guide the surgery, but there are a couple different ways to perform minimally invasive surgeries.
Advanced robotic systems help doctors have better control and vision during complex surgeries. These robots help them to perform safe, less invasive, and precise surgeries.
During the robotic-assisted surgery, surgeons operate from a console with two master controllers that move four robotic arms – kind of like a video game. A high-definition 3-D image is projected on the console so the surgeon can see the clearest view of procedure. Computer software acts as the hands to make the movements even more precise. Every movement the surgeon makes is replicated by the robot. Many surgeons have said performing this procedure feels like they have shrunk and gone inside the patient because they can see everything so clearly.
Non-robotic (Endoscopic) Minimally Invasive Surgery
If you’ve ever heard of laparoscopic surgery, thoracoscopic surgery, or “keyhole” surgery, you’ve heard of endoscopic surgeries. These are non-robotic minimally invasive procedures that use an endoscope to reach internal organs through extremely small incisions.
During endoscopic surgery, a thin, flexible tube with a video camera is inserted through a tiny incision or natural opening (like the mouth or nostrils). The tube has a channel to operate small surgical instruments. The surgeon can access the instruments while viewing the organs on a monitor. This procedure allows the surgeon to look inside and operate inside the patient’s body without having to perform an open surgery.
Benefits of Minimally Invasive Surgery
- Less bleeding
- Fewer post-op infections
- Fewer complications
- Shorter hospital stay
- Return to normal activities sooner
- Less scarring
- Low cost
There are many benefits to minimally invasive surgery, but it’s not meant for just any orthopedic injury. Here are some of the latest minimally invasive orthopedic surgery options.
Arthroscopy is one of the greatest advances in orthopedic surgery so far, and is the most common orthopedic surgical procedure. It is used primarily for joint surgeries.
In knee arthroscopy, two or more small incisions are made in the knee, and a thin, flexible tube with a camera (arthroscope) helps surgeons visualize the inside of the joint. Other incisions are made for small surgical tools to be inserted. The entire operation is projected on a large screen, and the surgeon uses the image to guide the instruments and perform the repairs needed.
Knee arthroscopy is commonly used for those who need ACL tear reconstruction, meniscal tear repair or trimming, loose body removal, or inflamed synovium removal.
Like knee arthroscopy, small incisions are made for the insertion of a tube and small insertions, but the arthroscope is inserted into the hip joint. The surgeon is able to view the joint and perform operations by viewing the images on a screen.
Hip arthroscopy can help relieve painful symptoms that impact the labrum, articular cartilage, or other soft tissues surrounding the hip joint. This procedure is frequently used to treat those with hip injuries, hip dysplasia, femoroacetabular impingement, loose bodies in joint, synovitis, and hip joint infections.
This is one of the most common minimally invasive surgeries. The same procedure for arthroscopies is performed here, but through the shoulder joint.
Shoulder arthroscopy helps patients relieve painful symptoms caused by damage to the rotator cuff tendons, labrum, articular cartilage, and other soft tissues around the joint. It is frequently used to perform a rotator cuff repair, bone spur removal, shoulder instability repair, labral repair or removal, or inflamed tissue removal.
Wrist arthroscopy isn’t very common, but it is a practical alternative to conventional surgery if you are dealing with wrist injuries or other wrist conditions. It is most commonly used for carpal tunnel release procedures, but can also be used for fracture repair, ligament or TFCC tear repair, and chronic wrist pain treatment.
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS)
Spine surgery is traditionally performed as an open surgery. Thanks to technological advancements, doctors are now able to pinpoint the exact source of back or neck pains through minimally invasive procedures.
Minimally invasive spine surgery has the same principles as arthroscopic surgery, but the tools are just slightly different. Instead of an arthroscope and video projection, MISS uses fluoroscopy. Fluoroscopy is real-time X-ray imaging that lets the surgeon to be visually guided through the area that is being treated.
MISS can be used for herniated disc treatment, spinal stenosis treatment, spinal decompression, and spinal fusion.
Minimally Invasive Total Joint Replacement
There are several different kinds of joint replacements that can be performed through minimally invasive surgery. The most common joint replacements are through the hip, knee, and shoulder. In a total joint replacement, the damaged joint is removed and artificial joint components are cemented or screwed into its place. A large incision is usually made to expose the entire joint. The surgeon might also need to detach or reattach soft tissues, like muscles and tendons, to reach the joint.
Minimally invasive joint replacement doesn’t require such drastic procedures. In order to disturb the surrounding tissues as little as possible, tiny incisions are made. Unfortunately, not all patients are suitable for this type of procedure.
Am I a good candidate?
For many orthopedic injuries and conditions, nonoperative management and traditional surgery are still the preferred methods of treatment. Everyone is different, and you should consult your doctor if you are interested in minimally invasive surgery. Over 20 million Americans have had this surgery, and it has proven to be extremely effective.
Is chronic pain preventing you from living your life to the fullest? If so, contact us at (210) 614-6432. The South Texas Spinal Clinic’s team of orthopedic surgeons are among the best in San Antonio.