Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Welcome to our dedicated section on minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS), a cutting-edge approach that has revolutionised the treatment of spinal conditions.

Dr Raoul Pope was at the forefront of adopting this advanced surgical technique into his clinical practice, providing patients with effective solutions that offer fewer complications and quicker recovery times than traditional open spine surgery.

What is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

Minimally invasive spine surgery involves the use of specialised techniques that enable the surgeon to access the spine through small incisions, or “punctures”, through which tubular retractors are inserted. This approach utilises advanced imaging techniques such as fluoroscopy (live low-dose X-ray) and endoscopic or microscopic technology to view and treat the spinal structures.

Tubular Retractors

Tubular, progressively dilating (widening) retractors are akin to a “tube” that is inserted gently through your back, which your surgeon can operate through. It spares the need for cutting through muscles and soft tissues to gain access to the operative location, thus minimising damage and post-surgical pain.

Tubular retractors gently and progressively dilate and separate muscles and soft tissues in the operative field. A final working tube or adjustable retractor is then secured in place. Using specialised bayoneted instruments and microscopic visualisation, surgery is performed through the tube, which can be moved at will depending on the exposure needed.

The key benefit of MISS is that it causes less damage to the muscles and surrounding soft tissues compared to open surgery.

Dr Pope performs MISS techniques for his Thoraco-lumbar Microdiscectomies and Laminectomies and cervical foraminotomiesin about 90-95% of cases.

Click HERE to access an article Dr Pope authored for Sydney GPs on MISS: “What is Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?”

Conditions Treated by Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Minimally invasive techniques can be used to treat a wide range of spinal disorders, including:

Bulging discs that can cause pain, numbness, or weakness along the nerve.
Wear-and-tear on spinal discs leading to pain and reduced functionality.
Narrowing of the spinal canal, which can compress the spinal cord or nerves.
Condition where one vertebra slips over another.
Management of infections or the precise removal of tumours with minimal disruption to surrounding tissues.

Stabilisation of broken vertebrae due to trauma or osteoporosis.

Advantages of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Over Open Surgery

The unique advantages of MISS over traditional open spine surgery include:
This results in less blood loss during surgery and smaller scars post-operatively.
MISS avoids the need to cut through muscles, instead utilising small tubes to gently separate muscle fibres. This leads to less postoperative pain and quicker recovery.
Smaller incisions reduce the exposure of internal tissues to external contaminants, thereby decreasing the risk of infection.
Patients typically experience a quicker return to normal activities, with many being discharged from the hospital on the same day or shortly after the procedure.
Reduced tissue trauma leads to less pain during the recovery period and less reliance on pain medications.

Types of Minimally Invasive Spinal Procedures

Our practice offers a variety of minimally invasive procedures to address specific spinal issues, including:
For herniated lumbar discs, this procedure involves the removal of the portion of the disc that is pressing on the nerve.
Used to treat spinal stenosis, a small part of the bone over the nerve root or spinal cord (lamina) is removed to alleviate compression.
This procedure is performed to expand the passageway where a spinal nerve root exits the spinal canal, relieving pressure caused by compression.
Small incisions and specialised instruments are used to fuse two or more vertebrae together, stabilising the spine.
These procedures are designed to stabilise compressed vertebrae due to fractures and involve the injection of a cement-like material into the bone.
Utilises a tiny camera to guide the surgery, particularly useful in diagnosing and repairing damaged spinal discs and nerves.

Dr Raoul Pope is a highly experienced Neurosurgeon and sub-specialised Spine Surgeon with 20+ years of experience. He consults and operates across Sydney.

Dr Pope completed a sub-specialised, dedicated, international training fellowship in complex neurosurgical and orthopaedic spine surgery at a recognised, high-volume Centre of Excellence in spine surgery, in Canada.

He offers telehealth consultations and welcomes both private and public patients.