By definition, minimally invasive procedures are less traumatic to the body than conventional, open surgical treatments for the same condition. With the help of special devices and techniques, doctors can, in many cases, perform delicate procedures through a small incision. This approach minimizes the disruption of bodily tissues, thereby reducing post-procedural pain and recovery time, and lessening the risk of complications.
UBNS is a vanguard of minimally invasive neurosurgery. Our experienced team of neurosurgeons is known worldwide for excellence in the minimally invasive treatment of cerebrovascular diseases. Although not everyone is a candidate for minimally invasive techniques (described below), the technology is constantly evolving so that more patients can be treated safely and effectively in this manner. Our unsurpassed expertise helps us determine and deliver the best therapy for our patients.
Minimally Invasive Endovascular Procedures
The term endovascular refers to any medical treatment that accesses the body’s extensive network of blood vessels to treat serious abnormalities throughout the body. Using endovascular technology, UBNS neurosurgeons can access almost any major artery or vein (usually in the upper leg or arm) with a small needle puncture. From the point of entry, tiny hollow tubes called catheters, which may contain medicine or small surgical instruments, can be navigated to the area of abnormality, where repairs can be made. Commonly, we use this vascular “highway” to access and treat vascular abnormalities of the brain and spine, including aneurysms, vascular malformations (AVMs), atherosclerotic disease, and vascular tumors.
Minimally Invasive Endoscopic Procedures
An endoscope is a device used by neurosurgeons to operate through a limited opening to allow them to see anatomical structures better than ever before. The typical endoscope used in neurosurgery features a tiny lens at the end of a small catheter and camera for visualization, a light source for illumination, and one or more channels through which instruments can be inserted for surgical manipulation. Endoscopy is most frequently used to treat hydrocephalus, often eliminating the need for shunting, but endoscopy can also be applied to treat pituitary and intraventricular tumors and lesions. This type of surgery is appealing to patients because incisions are small and cosmetic with minimal skin disruption as compared to more open surgical procedures. As a result, post-operative pain and recovery time are significantly reduced.
Minimally Invasive Spine Procedure
Ruptured Disk, Disk Replacement Surgery.
UBNS physicians are treating routine lumbar disc ruptures using tubes smaller than 1-inch through a state-of-the-art microendoscopy system. In addition to allowing smaller, more cosmetic skin incisions, this technique avoids muscle cauterization and dissection techniques which can often be painful after surgery and prolong your recovery period. Instead, the muscle is gently separated in such a way that the muscle can return to its normal preoperative state with minimal trauma. Patients often leave the hospital on the same day of the procedure.
Compressed or pinched nerves in the neck and lower back can result in pain, numbness, and/or weakness in the arms and legs. The nerve is most often pinched in the bony canal as it exits the spinal cord to the body through an opening called a foramen. Instead of performing a long incision down the back, our neurosurgeons place a small tube over the bony canal that is compressing the nerve root. The tube is placed under x-ray guidance where a small amount of bone can be visualized and removed, freeing the affected nerve from the tight canal space. Patients often wake from surgery pain free and usually go home the next day.
Pedicle Screws and Interbody Fusion.
Minimally invasive technologies have evolved to a point where it is now possible to insert fusion devices through a very small tube, eliminating the need for large incisions. With the aid of live x-ray imaging, stabilizing screws can easily be inserted through small incisions and guided over wires into the desired location. For patients with pain on one side, discogenic back pain from a damaged vertebral disk, or unilateral vertebral bone fractures, minimally invasive approaches have produced good patient outcomes.
Vertebroplasty stabilizes osteoporotic compression fractures to provide immediate pain relief. The procedure provides an instant internal vertebral body fusion as bone cement (methyl methacrylate polymer) is injected into a weakened vertebral body under fluoroscopic guidance. The treatment is performed with local anesthesia and some mild sedation. Vertebroplasty is also used for pain relief and stabilization of vertebral metastatic lesions and hemangioma. Similar to vertebroplasty is balloon kyphoplasty. In this procedure, tiny balloons are inserted into fractured vertebrae and inflated. The space created by the balloons is then filled with cement to support the bones and prevent further collapse.