“Minimally invasive surgery” is a term many people in the San Jose area prefer. The idea of smaller, less invasive cuts and quicker recovery is very appealing. Television, radio, and newspapers promotes this scenario of minimally invasive spine surgery and that you, the back pain sufferer, can benefit from it. Is this really true?

Minimally invasive spine surgery offers the advantage of smaller incisions, faster recuperation, shorter hospital stays, and potentially less post-operative pain. This is all true. However, despite all of the pros of minimally invasive spine surgery, there are cons associated with it.

First, any surgery that does not adequately address the source of the problem – whether that surgery is minimally invasive or not – does not ultimately result in helping the patient. The result of surgery is the deciding factor, not the method to execute the surgery.

Second, minimally invasive surgery, as with any type of surgery, is just one tool in the arsenal of a skilled surgeon, and has specific indications for its use. Too often surgeons tailor their recommended surgery based on what a patient will agree to, rather than what is best for the patient. Minimally invasive spine surgery has its place in the surgeon’s toolbox, but it has to be applied to the right patient with the appropriate condition. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all surgical technique.

Third, although minimally invasive surgery is attractive to most patients, unless a surgeon is technically qualified and trained to accomplish what he or she is hoping to achieve through a small opening, they will not be able to do so and the patient is no better. Minimally invasive surgery of the spine requires training and experience. Always ask your doctor about their training and how many minimally invasive surgeries they have performed when you are offered the minimally invasive option, and ask to speak to their prior patients.

Lastly, as with any surgery, complications can and do occur. A minimally invasive surgery adds an additional layer of difficulty with properly dealing with a complication if and when it occurs. This can result in a worse outcome for the patient, and can even result in death or paralysis. This situation can be minimized through a surgeon’s training and expertise.

Dr. Edward Rustamzadeh has extensive experience and training in minimally invasive spine surgery and is pleased to offer these skills to residents of San Jose and surrounding areas. However, as indicated, this is just one of the surgical options you may have. Dr. Rustamzadeh will recommend the surgical option – including minimally invasive spine surgery – that is appropriate to your condition.