According to the National Institutes of Health, eight out of ten Americans will experience debilitating back pain sometime in their lives. As a result, more than 1.2 million Americans undergo spinal surgery each year. Approximately 300,000 of those back surgeries were spinal fusions, where vertebrae are joined surgically so they can’t move. They’re often held in place, permanently, with metal screws or rods.
Dr. Michael A. Gleiber, a South Florida Board-Certified Orthopedic Spine Surgeon is introducing an innovative minimally invasive procedure bringing a new hope for back pain sufferers. Unlike traditional surgery, which requires an overnight hospital stay or longer, this procedure is quicker, easier, and more cost effective. “Where it was once inconceivable that major spine surgery could be completed without hospitalization, this is now the reality. For example, a patient suffering from a painful herniated disc used to require massively invasive open back surgery and possibly spinal fusion. Now, we are able to use surgical magnification and microscopic surgical techniques to correct the disc disorder without the long-term side effects of major surgery.”
Dr. Michael Gleiber performs MIS surgery (minimally invasive spine surgery), a specialty type of surgery that uses a small incision and real-time x-ray guidance to get to the affected areas of the spine without cutting through muscle. Dr. Gleiber uses advancements in technology to pinpoint a problem area – a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, etc – so that just a small incision is needed. Traditional spine surgery requires 5 or 6-inch incision followed by the slicing through or retraction – moving aside – of muscles surrounding the spine and the risk of damage to normal tissue. It can lead to hospital stays of five or more days – as well as prolonged pain and recovery time. Dr. Gleiber proposes a completely different approach. The surgery, called laminectomy utilizes magnification to see inside the 2-inch incision and precisely locate the lamina – the top portion of the vertebrae – for removal, widening the spinal canal and creating more space for the spinal nerves. The result is quicker recovery, decreased operative blood loss, decreased risk of infection and decreased time in the operating room.
According to Dr. Gleiber, minimally invasive spine surgery is becoming “the norm” of how spine procedures can and should be performed for patients. These benefits include safer surgery, less violation of the healthy soft tissues and muscles in the spine, decreased pain requirements, decreased blood loss, more accurate placement of implants and a faster return to work as well as shorter hospital stays. Dr. Gleiber’s patients typically will have surgery in the morning and be able to walk with physical therapy approximately 5000 feet within hours after surgery the same day.
“What I found across the board was that patients that had minimally invasive spine surgery ended up leaving the hospital within a day or two, returning to work earlier and their pain after surgery was significantly decreased compared to patients who have had the same procedure using large open incisions.”