Neurosurgical Associates of Central Jersey
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

What is minimally invasive spine surgery?

Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) is a term used to describe a procedure that is performed while disrupting as little tissue around the spine as possible, including:

  • Ligaments
  • Muscles
  • Nerves
  • Organs
  • Tendons
  • Veins and arteries

MISS is performed making small incisions and guiding specially designed instruments through the incision to the desired area of the spine.

What is minimally invasive spine surgery used to treat?

MISS is used to surgically treat spine conditions that include:

  • Degenerative disc disease (DDD): A natural breakdown of the spinal discs (the pads between the vertebrae) as the body ages, which results in herniated discs or loss of flexibility in the discs
  • Herniated discs: A condition that occurs when the soft center of a spinal disc leaks out of the tough exterior and places pressure on nearby nerves
  • Scoliosis: An irregular curvature of the spine that may look like an “S” or “C” in shape
  • Spinal stenosis: A narrowing of the spinal canal or space the spinal nerves travel through
  • Spondylolisthesis: A condition where a vertebra in the spine slips forward over the vertebra below it
  • Vertebral compression fractures
  • Damage to the spine due to tumor growth or infection

What are the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery?

Compared to open surgery, MISS tends to be safer, faster and offers less recovery time following the procedure. This includes benefits such as:

  • Less blood loss during surgery
  • Less pain and reliance on pain medication
  • Less rehabilitation required after surgery
  • Minimal scarring due to smaller incisions
  • Reduced risk of damage to the muscles because little or no muscle cutting is necessary
  • Reduced risk of infection

What are some types of minimally invasive surgeries?

Surgeries that may be performed using minimally invasive techniques include:

A discectomy: A discectomy is the partial or total removal of a damaged spinal disc to alleviate pressure on nearby nerves. This treatment is typically used in severe cases of disc herniation or DDD.

Fusion surgery: Performed for all of the conditions listed above, fusion surgery is a procedure in which damaged spinal disc material is removed and replaced with a bone graft or graft material in a cage to fuse two vertebrae together. There are several fusion procedures, each of which is primarily named after where on the body the surgeon enters from. They include:

  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF), which is performed through incisions in the back and involves fusing the front (anterior) and back (posterior) columns of the spine
  • Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF), which is performed through a small incision in the back
  • Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF), where the surgeon accesses the lumbar (low back) section of the spine through an incision in the abdomen
  • Direct lateral interbody fusion (DLIF)—also known as extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF) or lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF)—is when the surgeon enters the surgical site through an incision made between the ribs and the hip
  • Oblique lumbar lateral interbody fusion (OLLIF), where the spine is accessed through a small space on the side of the spine called the Kambin’s triangle

Spinal decompression: Decompression surgery is performed to ease the pressure on nerves that may be causing pain, numbness or tingling. It involves removing the bone or soft tissues that may be creating the pressure, such as with a herniated disc or spinal stenosis.

For more information about MISS or to schedule an appointment with a specialist, contact us today.

Contact Us


Navigating Pituitary Tumor Surgery: From Diagnosis Through Healing

Understanding ACDF Surgery for Neck Pain and Spinal Concerns


Discectomy Dos and Don’ts: Your Guide to a Speedy Recovery