Minimally-Invasive Spine Surgery

Minimally invasive spine surgery or MIS allows surgeons to perform many spinal procedures through skin punctures or incisions less than 1-inch long. MIS is performed to treat herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and some types of spinal deformity. Many MIS procedures are performed on an outpatient basis.

Video: Minimally-Invasive Lumbar Microdecompression

This minimally invasive procedure is used to remove overgrown vertebral bone and soft tissue to relieve the compression of nerve roots in the lumbar spine. It is performed through a small incision on the back.

Instead of long incisions and extensive tissue disruption, MIS uses an endoscope inserted through the incision. An endoscope is a thin telescope-like instrument with a lighted tube and camera attachment. Surgery is performed by passing instruments through the endoscope to the operative field. The light illuminates the field and the camera transmits images to a monitor in the operating room.


Many of the procedures that can be performed under general anesthesia as open surgery can also be done as minimally invasive surgery with good results. There are some potential benefits to minimally invasive surgery. These advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery may include:

  • Reduced operative time
  • Less soft tissue damage, due to reduced muscle retraction
  • Reduced blood loss
  • Less painful surgical incisions that heal faster
  • Faster reecovery is faster
  • Less postoperative pain
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Smaller, more cosmetically pleasing scars

Where is MIS Used?

Many procedures can be performed as MIS. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Discectomy
  • Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)
  • Guided Lumbar Interbody Fusion (GLIF)
  • Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF)
  • Vertebroplasty
  • Kyphoplasty


Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for spinal disorders is increasingly common and may be a safe, effective form of surgery for appropriate candidates. MIS is performed using endoscopes and specially designed tools such that only one or more small incisions are required. There may be advantages to MIS versus open surgery. Patients considering spinal surgery should be aware that not all spinal surgeries can be performed in a minimally invasive way.