Minimally Invasive Disk Surgery: Similar Outcomes, Higher Risk, Compared to Conventional Surgery

A study published November 26 in CMAJ Open concludes that minimally invasive disk surgery provides no relative benefit in either long-term functionality or reduced long-term extremity pain when compared to open surgical procedures. Minimally invasive surgery for discectomy also requires advanced technical expertise and may be associated with increased risks of neurologic injury, incidental damage to the outer covering of the brain and spinal cord, and further surgery.

Researchers from McMaster University, Ontario, noted that symptomatic neck and lower back spinal disc diseases affect at least 5% of the population, resulting in pain, disability, and loss of income. In a meta-analysis of previous studies, the authors found that for patients who fail to improve with nonsurgical management, conventional open discectomy surgery often provides good or excellent results, with less risk of technical complication than minimally invasive procedures.

Read a news story, with link to the study abstract, here.

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