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Understanding How Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery is Done

by Melanie Peterson

Minimally invasive surgery is a kind of surgery that allows the surgeon to use a technique that has a minimum number of cuts and incisions made on your body during the surgery. Patients who accept this kind of surgery recover quicker, and they don’t spend much time in hospitals. The healing process also proves very comfortable for them. Some minimally invasive surgeries are done without robotic assistance, while others get done using automated technology, which requires robotic arms that have more control over the surgery.

Traditionally, open surgeries were done by making a large and deep cut to open your body’s part the surgeon is operating. In contrast, minimal surgery requires only a small incision, and then they employ the use of cameras, lights, and other tools that will fit on the several small incisions on the skin. The surgeon is then able to perform the surgery successfully with minimal openings of your skin and muscles. Read on for detailed information on everything you need to know about minimally invasive surgery.

Robotic Minimally Invasive Surgery

How It Works

Minimally invasive surgery gets done using an electronic operation station similar to a computer. The station is where the surgeon will control a high-definition camera and the robotic arms to perform the surgery. For the surgery to be successful, the surgeon will require and do the following:

  • The surgeon will need anesthesia to put the patient asleep throughout the process.
  • The robotic arms will also use several tools to perform the surgery, such as cameras, lights, etc.
  • Using the robotic arms, the surgeon will make various tiny incisions where tools get inserted through.
  • Then, insert the tools attached to the robotic arms into the patient’s body through the incisions made.
  • Later, the surgeon will insert tubes with lights and cameras known as endoscopes through another incision to see their operating areas.
  • The surgeon then performs the surgery using the robotic arms while looking at the images captured by the endoscope on a screen.
  • After completing the surgery, the surgeon removes all the incisions’ tools and then stitches the incision after the procedure.

What Conditions Require Robotic Minimally Invasive Surgery?

There are several conditions that many surgeons will prefer using instead of the traditional open surgery method, for instance, the lungs, the heart, the Urologic system, the Gynecologic system, mini spine surgery, and the digestive system. All those mentioned above are sensitive, and open surgery might not be ideal.

Benefits of Robotic Minimally Invasive Surgery

Compared to non-robotic surgery, where the surgeon views the surgical site in only two dimensions, this surgery requires the surgeon to see through an operative field in 3-D. There is also motion scaling software that helps the surgeon to perform some very delicate techniques with precision. Listed below are more benefits of robotic surgery compared to the traditional open one:

  • The patient will lose less blood.
  • There will be minimal skin, muscle, and tissue damage.
  • The recovery period is shorter and less painful.
  • There is very minimal risk of the patient getting an infection.
  • The scars left after the healing process are fewer, and some are even invisible.

The Risks

There is a possibility of minor to significant risk from general anesthesia or even infections with any surgery. Compared to open surgery the robotic surgery often takes longer. It’s because the surgeon will need to set up the equipment before they start the procedure. It may increase the risk of anesthesia. A reason why surgeons should ensure the patient is healthy enough for the surgery. There have been cases where the surgeons must perform open surgery to finish the operation process, which often leads to longer recovery time, larger scares, and an extended period under anesthesia.

Non-Robotic Minimally Invasive Surgery

How it works

A non-robotic minimally invasive surgery involves laparoscopic endoscopic or and endovascular surgery. The surgery is similar to robotic surgery, but the surgeon operates using their hands instead of robotic arms. For this kind of surgery, the surgeon will require and do the following:

  • Use general anesthesia to put the patient to sleep.
  • Make several incisions where the tools get inserted.
  • Insert the tools into the patient’s body through the incisions
  • Insert an endoscope through a different incision to help them see the area they are operating. The endoscope may also get inserted through the nose, or mouth depending on where the operation is.
  • The surgeon will then operate by hand while looking at the images from the endoscope on a screen.
  • After completing the surgery, the surgeon removes all the incisions’ tools and then shut them by stitching.

Conditions that surgeons prefer using this kind of surgery include; vascular conditions like varicose veins and vascular diseases, and Neurological or spinal conditions like spinal cord and discs, tumors around the brain and skull, and treating injuries in the brain and spine.

Benefits of Non-Robotic Minimally Invasive Surgery

The benefits of this kind of surgery are similar to robotic surgery. However, for non-robotic surgery, the surgeon will see clearly and efficiently the operation area, and they will be able to perform the surgery with more precision. Chances of complication on this are much lower, and the scars will be smaller. The recovery period will also be shorter with less discomfort and pain.

The Risks

The risk involved in non-robotic surgery is similar to those in other types of surgeries. It includes risks of general anesthesia and infections around the area of operation. Most surgeons ensure they perform a physical check-up on the patients to ensure they are healthy. That is to make sure the rate of any risk will be as minimal as possible. In a few cases, the surgeons must perform an open surgery if they feel the endoscopic surgery will not complete the surgery successfully. It causes the patient to stay longer in the hospital after surgery with longer recovery time and large scars.

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