The state of minimally invasive spine surgery in 3 insights


Minimally invasive spine surgery is drawing interest, and it is expected to play an important role in shaping how and where spine surgeons care for patients.

Here is how three surgeons are thinking about the trend:

1. Some spine surgeons predict that surgeons will lean toward minimally invasive spine techniques more in the future.

"We'll see the orthopedic industry increasingly favor minimally invasive spinal surgery procedures and techniques over more conventional surgeries," John Shin, MD, orthopedic spinal surgeon at RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group in West Orange, N.J., said. "More doctors will be trained in new procedures like unilateral biportal endoscopic lumbar spinal surgery (which I performed for the first time in New Jersey). The technique utilizes the same principles, tools, and operating room equipment as traditional spinal surgeries while being ultra minimally invasive."

2. Minimally invasive spine procedures will help the spine industry move away from the trend of prolonged hospital stays.

"Traditionally, spine surgery is conducted in an inpatient setting," Joel Beckett, MD. UCLA Health/DISC Sports and Spine Center in Marina del Rey, Calif., said. "With continued technological advancements and the development of minimally invasive techniques coupled with continued changes in reimbursement, this 'default inpatient' needs to be phased out. Across the country, forward-thinking spine surgeons and centers are conducting safe and efficient outpatient surgery. Ultimately, this change benefits both individual patients and decreases the cost burden on the health system as a whole."

3. Adoption for some minimally invasive procedures, such as endoscopic spine surgery, has been slower in adoption within the U.S., which can be a barrier to outpatient growth.

"One factor holding back outpatient spine migration is the reluctance of some healthcare providers to adopt new technologies and techniques," Brian Fiani, DO, of Mendelson Kornblum Orthopedic & Spine Specialists in West Bloomfield, Mich., said. "Many traditional surgeons may be hesitant to change their practices and adopt minimally invasive procedures, which can limit the availability of outpatient spine surgery options for patients."

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