Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS) is becoming some of the most commonly performed spine procedures in the United States. Because MISS decreases the risk of surgical complications and significantly reduce recovery time, more and more surgeons are choosing these approaches over traditional surgery. If non-surgical treatment measures have not decreased your neck and/or back pain, a MISS procedure might be the treatment option you’ve been searching for. Here’s everything you need to know:

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery for a Herniated Disc

The spine’s vertebrae align to form the spinal canal, which allows the spinal cord to travel from the brain down to the pelvis. Between each vertebrae is a jelly-like structure, known as the intervertebral discs.  These discs act as shock absorbers for the spine and create space between each vertebrae to prevent them from coming into direct contact.  However, when to much stress is placed on a disc, or they begin to wear over time, they can begin to herniate and protrude into the spinal canal and irritate the spinal nerves.  When this occurs, it often results in any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the neck or lower back
  • Pain in the shoulders, arms or legs
  • Weakness in the hands or feet
  • Tingling or burning in the or extremities (Radiculopathy or Sciatica)


Illustration 1-A herniated disc pinches the spinal cord

A Microdiscectomy is a Minimally Invasive procedure used to remove herniated portions of the spinal disc and relieve pressure on the spinal nerves.  This outpatient procedure uses a 1 inch incision in the area of the herniated disc as well as a surgical microscope to remove any pieces of spinal discs or bone spurs that may be compressing the spinal nerve(s).

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery for Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis is a condition in which the spaces in the spinal cord begin to narrow which consequently increases pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves of the spine.  There are many different reasons why Spinal Stenosis may occur but the most common cause is the aging process.   As a person ages, the ligaments of the spine may start to thicken and bone spurs (osteophytes) may also start to form around the spinal cord. This, in turn, causes the spaces in the spinal cord to become narrower. 

One Minimally Invasive procedure that can be used is known as Laminectomy.  The goal of this outpatient procedure is to use a small (1 inch) incision to remove the domed piece of bone over the spinal canal, known as the lamina.  Removing this small piece of bone creates more space in the spinal canal and allows the spinal cord and/or spinal nerves to become decompressed, which results in the relief of pain.  In some cases, bone spurs or inflamed pieces of the joints along the spine (facet joints) may also be trimmed to help decompress the spinal nerves.

Finding a Spine Specialist

Minimally invasive spine surgery is performed by a Neurosurgeon specializing in spine.  Dr. Anthony Virella is a Board-Certified, Fellowship trained Neurological Spine Surgeon with advanced training in the management of complex spinal disorders. He attended medical school at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and is a graduate of the UCLA Neurosurgery Residency Program.  Dr. Virella is a nationally recognized specialist in the field of complex and Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery and has offices located in Agoura Hills, Valencia and Palmdale.  If you, or someone you love, is suffering from persistent neck or back pain, contact us today to schedule an appointment.