In our Orange County practice, Dr. Alex Taghva sees minimally invasive spine surgery as a revolutionary solution for back pain in patients with disc problems in the spinal column. In the past, fixing damage caused by degenerative disc disease, disc herniation and degeneration, tumors, spinal deformities, and fractures required invasive spine surgery. However, modern technology now allows surgeons to correct these problems with minimally invasive spine surgery (M.I.S.S.), offering patients faster recovery times and fewer risks during surgery.
Dr. Alexander Taghva, M.D., F.A.A.N.S., is a highly regarded board-certified neurosurgeon with a strong focus on patient care. He performs minimally invasive spinal surgery for patients from Orange County and Southern California on an outpatient basis at his state-of-the-art medical facility in Mission Viejo.
What is M.I.S.S.?
Minimally invasive spine surgery is a type of surgical procedure that is performed to correct several spinal disorders ranging from degenerative disc disease to bone spurs. M.I.S.S. procedures minimize surgical trauma and scarring, often requiring just one small incision to repair a damaged disc or relieve pressure on the spinal nerves.
Patients in Mission Viejo and Orange County often choose M.I.S.S. over traditional spinal surgery because it is a much quicker procedure with less downtime and can be done on an outpatient basis. Minimally invasive spinal surgery in Mission Viejo also opens up the benefits of back surgery to patients who are unable to undergo a more invasive procedure for safety reasons.
Your Spine Surgery Consultation at our Orange County location
All patients will need to consult with Dr. Taghva before scheduling M.I.S.S. This consultation for minimally invasive spine surgery in Mission Viejo, Orange County, and Laguna Beach is important for determining candidacy and creating a surgical plan. During this appointment, be prepared to discuss your medical history and disclose current medications and treatments.
Dr. Taghva will take X-rays, go over information from your medical history, ask questions, and discuss your treatment options, which may include spinal surgery. The surgeon will go over what to expect during surgery and give pre- and post-operative instructions. He will also discuss the type of anesthesia that will be used and give you an idea of what to expect in the months following the procedure. It’s important that you come prepared with a list of questions to ask the surgeon.
What Are the Benefits of M.I.S.S.?
There are many benefits to choosing minimally invasive spinal surgery over traditional surgery in Mission Viejo and Orange County. Some advantages include:
- Less pain and reduced need for narcotics
- Quicker procedure (Dr. Taghva performs M.I.S.S. as an outpatient procedure)
- Less blood loss reducing the risk of needing a blood transfusion
- Much smaller incisions, resulting in less scarring than traditional open procedures
- Often more cost-effective than traditional spinal surgery
- Reduced risk of damage to the muscles and surrounding soft tissues
- Improved quality of life after surgery
What Does Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Treat?
Minimally invasive techniques are often able to successfully treat spinal surgery patients in Mission Viejo and Orange County who are suffering from spinal stenosis, disc degeneration, bone spurs, scoliosis, herniated discs in the lumbar spine and cervical regions, and spine deformities.
Dr. Taghva will provide you with a custom treatment plan to address your specific health concerns. He prefers to use minimally invasive surgical techniques whenever possible. However, not everyone is a good candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery in Orange County.
Patients with back pain related to a spinal defect may require open surgery. Open procedures involve making a large incision and moving the muscle back to directly access the spine. Individuals with narrowing of the open spaces in the spinal canal may not be able to be treated with minimally-invasive techniques and may require more extensive surgery.
Preparing for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
In preparation for M.I.S.S., Dr. Taghva recommends that his patients quit smoking and exercise regularly before surgery to encourage a faster recovery. Any non-essential medications or herbal supplements that could react with the anesthetic should be paused a few weeks ahead of time. This will be discussed during the consultation with Dr. Taghva.
What Are the Different Minimally Invasive Spine-Surgery Methods?
There are many methods that Dr. Taghva uses to perform M.I.S.S. in Mission Viejo and Orange County including:
Tubular retractor method
This technique involves dilating the soft tissues vs. cutting through the muscle. It uses tubes to pull back the muscle and allows the surgeon to access the spine through a small incision rather than making a larger incision and exposing the open area, as is required with traditional spine surgery.
Dr. Taghva uses an endoscope, which is a tiny camera attached to a flexible tube, to assist in procedures with minimal access. After the modifications are made, the surgeon removes the tubular retractor and the dilated tissues are returned to normal.
Sometimes, instruments like screws and rods must be placed to stabilize the spinal cord or keep the spine immobilized during spinal fusion. Percutaneous placement of these instruments is done through small skin incisions and without the need to cut through the underlying muscle tissue.
X-ray imaging is used alongside guidewires which are inserted into the vertebrae along the area where the screws will be placed. The screws contain extenders that are removed after assisting in guiding the rods to tighten the screws.
Direct lateral access
When the lumbar spine is involved, the spinal column is often accessed through the side of the body. With this method, the patient will be lying on their side as the surgeon places a tubular retractor to access discs and bones in the spine.
Sometimes, accessing the front of the thoracic spine is necessary. Traditional surgery opens the chest through a large incision and sometimes requires one or more ribs to be removed. With the thoracoscopic approach, multiple small incisions are made so that the endoscope can be inserted to facilitate the procedure.
What Are the Treatment Options for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (M.I.S.S.)?
Minimally invasive spine surgery can treat a range of spine conditions using the following surgical techniques:
Discectomy: When spinal discs are weakened, the tissue inside can herniate outside of the disc. This herniated material can put pressure on the nerves, which can be very painful. When this occurs, surgical treatment is often indicated to trim the herniated disc and relieve pressure on the spinal nerves. Using tubular dilators and an endoscope, discectomy can be performed using M.I.S.S.
Spinal decompression: Spinal stenosis is the medical term describing the narrowing of the vertebral canal, causing pressure on the nerves. Pain and numbness are common symptoms of spinal stenosis. When spinal surgery is recommended, the bone and soft tissues are often removed with tubular dilators and endoscope. Laminectomy and foraminotomy are common procedures used to correct spinal stenosis.
Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion: This technique, also known as TLIF, is often used when there is low back pain due to degenerative disc disease and disc herniation. It is performed through the back with the patient lying on their stomach. Two small incisions are typically made and pedicle screws and rods are inserted between the vertebrae. The surgeon then removes the intervertebral disc and a bone graft is placed to stabilize the vertebral levels.
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What to Expect After Minimally-Invasive Spine Surgery?
Minimally invasive spine surgery takes significantly less time to perform and recover from than traditional spinal surgery. Dr. Taghva will discuss how long your recovery is likely to be during your consultation, however since Dr. Taghva performs these surgeries on an outpatient basis in Mission Viejo, no hospital stay is necessary. Recovery time from M.I.S.S. is about half that of traditional open spine surgeries. Patients are often able to go back to work within two weeks and sometimes less.
Since endoscopic spine surgery does not disrupt the surrounding tissues and muscles of the spine, patients can expect mild discomfort compared to that of open surgery. Dr. Taghva will prescribe medication to manage any pain and alleviate inflammation. Endoscopic spine surgery typically requires only a very small incision. Because of this, scarring is minimal, often only millimeters long.
This is typical of what to expect following M.I.S.S., however, each specific situation may vary.
What Are the Possible Side Effects of Minimally-Invasive Spine-Surgeries?
Like every surgery, minimally-invasive spine surgery has its risks. Choosing a board-certified neurosurgeon keeps these possible side effects to a minimum. Some possible complications include:
- Blood loss
- Damage to the spinal nerves
- Blood clotting
- Anesthesia complications
- Spinal fluid leaking
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Frequently Asked Questions About Spine-Surgery
Conditions that may be treated with a minimally-invasive approach include herniated disc, spinal stenosis, scoliosis and other deformities of the spinal column, spinal infection, spondylolisthesis, vertebral compression, degenerative disc disease, and tumors of the spine. In severe spine disorder cases, however, traditional spinal surgery may be required.
“Cervical,” “thoracic,” and “lumbar” refer to the upper, middle, and lower portions of the spine. Cervical spine surgery is performed on the upper spine, typically to treat neck pain.
Smaller incisions, less trauma to the body, easier recovery and faster return to work make M.I.S.S. a better option than traditional invasive spine surgery for most patients who qualify for this surgical treatment.
Recovering from M.I.S.S. in Mission Viejo takes about half the time of traditional open spine surgeries. Dr. Taghva performs this surgery on an outpatient basis, meaning that patients can return home the same day. Total recovery time is typically around four to six weeks.
Minimally invasive spine surgery uses cutting-edge technologies to access the spine and correct damage to the discs and bones that make up the spinal column. Through small incisions and with the assistance of an endoscope, the surgeon utilizes a mini instrument is used to correct a range of spine disorders.
Why Choose Dr. Alexander Taghva
Dr. Alexander Taghva is a leading board-certified neurosurgeon, specializing in brain surgery, endoscopic spine surgery, and spine disorders. He is the only neuro-surgeon in Orange County who offers endoscopic laminotomy surgery. Dr. Taghva:
- Graduated from John Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed his residency at the University of California
- Completed a prestigious fellowship at The Ohio State University in Neuromodulation and Functional Neurosurgery
- Specializes in minimally invasive and endoscopic surgery, spinal stenosis, artificial disc replacement, spinal disorders, spinal surgery revision, and other spinal conditions.
- Specializes in brain surgery to treat trigeminal neuralgia, brain tumors, pituitary tumors, and Parkinson’s disease.
- A highly-respected neurosurgeon with many years of experience, including treating chronic pain via stimulation of the spinal cord and brain
- Actively involved in medical research and the lead investigator for clinical trials on spinal cord stimulation
Individuals in Orange County who wish to schedule a consultation for minimally-invasive spine surgery in Mission Viejo with Dr. Alexander Taghva should contact his office at 949-388-7190.