The Blog
July 5, 2024

Spinal Fusion Surgery vs. MicroTube Spine Surgery

Back pain can be debilitating. It affects daily life, work, and overall well-being. When conservative treatment methods such as physical therapy for back pain or oral medication don’t help, surgery may be the next step. Traditional spinal fusion surgery has long been the standard. However, innovations in medical technology have given rise to a less invasive option: MicroTube spine surgery. 

Spinal Fusion Surgery

Spinal fusion surgery is a traditional approach to treating severe back problems. The procedure involves fusing two or more vertebrae together to eliminate painful motion or to stabilize the spine. Surgeons use bone grafts, screws, and rods to fuse the affected vertebrae. While effective, this surgery is often invasive and comes with several drawbacks.

Drawbacks of Spinal Fusion Surgery

  1. Invasiveness: The surgery involves large incisions, which can lead to significant muscle and tissue damage.
  2. Long Recovery Time: Due to the invasiveness, recovery can take several months, during which patients might need physical therapy.
  3. Complications: There's a risk of complications such as infections, blood clots, and nerve damage.
  4. Limited Mobility: Fusing vertebrae reduces the spine's flexibility, potentially limiting mobility.

MicroTube Spine Surgery

MicroTube spine surgery is a type of minimally invasive spine surgery that uses a small tubular retractor to access the spine, through which surgical instruments can be inserted. This technique allows surgeons to operate with precision while minimizing damage to surrounding tissues.

What is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) is a modern surgical technique that aims to achieve the same results as traditional surgery but with less damage to the body. Instead of large incisions, surgeons use small cuts and specialized instruments. Among the various types of minimally invasive spine surgery, MicroTube spine surgery stands out as a particularly innovative and effective option.

Benefits of MicroTube Spine Surgery

MicroTube spine surgery offers numerous benefits over traditional spinal fusion surgery. Here are some reasons why you should consider this minimally invasive option:

  1. Reduced Tissue Damage MicroTube spine surgery involves smaller incisions, which means less damage to muscles and tissues. The result is less pain and quicker recovery times.
  2. Shorter Hospital Stay Because the surgery is less invasive, patients often have shorter hospital stays. In some cases, patients can go home the same day or after an overnight stay.
  3. Faster Recovery The reduced trauma to the body allows for faster healing. Most patients return to their normal activities within weeks instead of months.
  4. Lower Risk of Complications The precision of MicroTube spine surgery reduces the risk of complications such as infections and blood clots. The smaller incisions also minimize the chances of scarring.
  5. Preserved Mobility Unlike spinal fusion, MicroTube spine surgery does not limit the spine's flexibility. This means patients can maintain a greater range of motion after surgery.
  6. Minimal Scarring Smaller incisions result in minimal scarring, which is a significant cosmetic benefit for many patients.

Spinal Fusion vs MicroTube Spine Surgery: A Side-by-Side Comparison

To better understand why MicroTube spine surgery is often the preferred choice, let's compare it directly with traditional spinal fusion surgery in several key areas:

Spinal Fusion SurgeryMicrotube Spine Surgery
Surgical ApproachRequires large incisions and extensive muscle dissection to access the spine.Uses small incisions and a tubular retractor, minimizing muscle and tissue damage.
Recovery TimeRecovery can take several months, with a lengthy rehabilitation period.Recover within weeks and return to normal activities sooner.
Pain and DiscomfortHigher levels of postoperative pain due to larger incisions and tissue damage.Less postoperative pain because of the minimally invasive approach.
Hospital StayPatients usually stay in the hospital for several days.Many patients can go home the same day or after an overnight stay.
Risk of ComplicationsHigher risk of complications such as infections, blood clots, and nerve damage.Lower risk of complications due to increased precision and smaller incisions.
CostMore expensive due to longer hospital stays, extended recovery periods, and extensive postoperative care.More cost-effective with shorter hospital stays, faster recovery times, and fewer complications.

Conditions Treated with MicroTube Spine Surgery

MicroTube spine surgery is a versatile procedure that can address a variety of spine-related conditions. Here are some of the most common issues that can be effectively treated with this minimally invasive approach:

1. Herniated Discs

A herniated disc occurs when the soft inner gel of a spinal disc pushes through its outer layer, irritating nearby nerves and causing severe pain, numbness, and weakness. MicroTube spine surgery allows for the precise removal of the herniated portion, relieving pressure on the affected nerves.

2. Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal, compressing the spinal cord and surrounding nerves. Symptoms include pain, tingling, and muscle weakness. MicroTube spine surgery can decompress the spinal canal by removing bone spurs or other tissues causing the narrowing, providing significant symptom relief.

3. Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is a condition where the spinal discs lose their cushioning ability, leading to pain and reduced mobility. MicroTube spine surgery can be used to remove or repair damaged disc material, helping to alleviate pain and restore function.

4. Sciatica

Sciatica is characterized by pain radiating along the sciatic nerve (the nerve that runs from the lower back down through the legs), often due to a herniated disc or bone spur that’s pressing on the nerve. MicroTube spine surgery can address the underlying causes of sciatica or lumbar radiculopathy (a form of sciatica), providing relief from the symptoms.

5. Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis occurs when a vertebra slips forward, going over the one below it, leading to back pain and nerve compression. MicroTube spine surgery can stabilize the spine and relieve pressure on the nerves, improving patient outcomes.

6. Spinal Tumors

Tumors in or around the spine can cause pain, neurological issues, and other serious complications. MicroTube spine surgery can be used to safely remove spinal tumors with minimal disruption to surrounding tissues.

7. Neurogenic Claudication 

Neurogenic Claudication causes leg pain, numbness, or weakness during activity, often due to nerve compression in the lower back from spinal stenosis or herniated discs. MicoTube Spine Surgery uses a minimalistic approach to widen the nerve space and decompress nerves through a partial laminectomy.

8. Fractured Vertebrae

Vertebral fractures, often due to trauma or osteoporosis, can cause significant pain and instability. MicroTube spine surgery can stabilize the fracture and provide relief, often with the aid of cement-like materials.

Making the Right Choice for Your Spine

When faced with the prospect of spine surgery, it’s essential to consider all your options. While spinal fusion surgery has been a standard treatment for many years, it comes with several drawbacks, including a lengthy recovery period and a higher risk of complications.

MicroTube spine surgery is a powerful tool for treating a wide range of spinal conditions. Its minimally invasive nature, combined with the benefits of reduced pain, faster recovery, and lower complication rates, makes it an excellent choice for patients seeking relief from spine-related issues. 

If you're dealing with any of the conditions mentioned above, consult with Royal Spine Surgery to see if MicroTube spine surgery is right for you. Embrace the advancements in spine surgery and experience a smoother, more efficient path to recovery.

Contact us today.

Dr. Abdulhamid


Dr. Abdulhamid

Dr. Abdulhamid is a highly skilled and experienced board-certified neurosurgeon with a passion for providing exceptional spine care. He specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery and has a reputation for achieving outstanding results for his patients. His commitment to excellence and patient-centered approach have earned him the trust and respect of his patients and colleagues alike.

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