Written by Michael J. Musacchio, Jr., M.D.
Minimally invasive spine surgery (MIS) is best described as a method of performing spine surgery through small incisions with less muscle disruption, shorter recovery times, and with maximal preservation of normal spinal anatomy. While the term “MIS” is used very liberally these days, the MIS techniques really took off in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s with the introduction of tubular retractors and the use of endoscopes and microscopes. Through tubes the width of a finger, MIS surgeons can gain access to spinal pathology (i.e. disc herniations, bone spurs) while minimizing the cutting, stripping, and cauterization of muscles and ligaments which are vital to the preservation of spinal function and the prevention of future problems.
I began my neurosurgical training in a residency program at Rush University in Chicago. The Rush neurosurgical program had committed very early on to the development and teaching of minimally invasive spine surgery techniques. The equipment that we were using at the time was prototypical and very rudimentary. We were using 2-Dimensional endoscopes before High-Definition applied to anything beyond a stereo receiver. The visualization was poor and we had a very limited amount of tools and equipment that was usable through these small tubes. We were spending countless hours in the cadaver labs practicing our techniques and seeing how far we could push the technology. The early results in patient care were encouraging as patient outcomes were excellent and their recoveries were much shorter and much less painful than traditional approaches. This was the beginning of the modern age of MIS spine surgery and I was very fortunate to be at Rush during this time. My very first experiences in spine surgery were operating through tubes, and this impacted my development as a spine surgeon and my decision to commit my entire practice to minimally invasive spine surgery.
Over the last decade technology has exploded. We have more equipment than we know what to do with. Thanks to the development of HD scopes and improved depth of perception we now have unbelievable optics to view the spine. Collaborations between surgeons and industry continue to drive the field and continually introduce new techniques and equipment that enable MIS surgeons to offer better, safer, and smaller surgeries that offer maximal impact to patient outcomes and recovery. Most importantly, there is so much more to develop and perfect in the field as we are really only just beginning.
Plano Profile Magazine recently did a feature story on Dr. Musacchio and his early high school years in the medical scholar program. Read more on how this program helped shape his desire to become a minimally invasive neurosurgeon.Michael J. Musacchio, Jr., M.D. is a Center for Spine Care minimally invasive neurosurgeon specializing in the spine.
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