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Spinal Surgery Advancements Offer Efficiency

Washington University physicians can now correct spinal curvatures through just an inch incision with the same safety and efficacy as traditional surgery consisting of a much longer opening and recovery time.

Surgeries use tubular retractors to perform the complicated procedures in a tiny, 2-inch or less incision. They require very little muscle dissection or blood loss, allowing for shorter procedures, a quicker hospital release and lower risk for infection.

Not all spinal problems can currently be corrected with these innovative techniques. However, Washington University physicians have made many advancements in just a few years. Starting with discectomies five years ago, surgeons can now correct conditions from compression and lumbar problems to multiple fusions and some scoliosis curvatures.

Timothy Kuklo, MD, JD, Washington University orthopedic surgeon, believes the new surgeries could also relate to less long-term problems because of lesser muscle disruption. More time and research is needed to tell for sure. He also says the near future may hold innovations to help more extreme curvatures as well as tumors and spinal infection. 

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