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What Is Minimally Invasive Surgery? & Commonly Asked Questions

Knee theraphy

During orthopedic treatment, your orthopedist may mention the possibility of surgery. The initial thought of surgery may not be pleasant, but it takes many forms and varies significantly in its degree of invasiveness. When possible, your Orthopedic Surgeon will recommend Minimally Invasive Surgery. But what is Minimally Invasive Surgery? What makes it a better option?

Why Surgery?

Surgery is not a primary treatment when addressing orthopedic conditions.. Keep in mind that your orthopedist will have carefully considered, or may have already recommended, some of the following:

  • Over the counter medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Casting, bracing, or splinting
  • Prescription medications, including Corticosteroid injections
  • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy

When exercises and other non-invasive treatments fail to show any significant improvements or are otherwise beyond the scope of an orthopedic condition, that is when your orthopedist may recommend the use of non-invasive advanced imaging technology.

By analyzing the exact location and extent of the damage or inflammation, your orthopedist knows the exact image of what needs to be done before any incision is made. You may not even require surgery if an alternative solution can be deduced from these images, but this is only a possibility under limited circumstances.

If the case absolutely demands it, only then will your orthopedist recommend surgery. Even then, orthopedic surgery likely couldn’t be more different from what you might think about when the term comes to mind.

How Is Minimally Invasive Surgery Different?

Minimally Invasive Surgery covers a breadth of different treatment techniques that implement cutting edge medical technology to reduce the risks involved when surgery is an absolute necessity.

Traditional surgery generally relies on making a large incision that will provide a surgeon with enough visibility and access so as to work with handheld surgical instruments. There is an expected level of discomfort that would necessitate anesthesia, and the incision will need to be stitched shut and require a prolonged period of recovery time. Though it is still considered the standard for surgery, more specific surgeries have evolved to using minimally invasive techniques.

In minimally invasive surgery, surgeons will use the information from advanced imaging technology to plan out one or more much smaller incisions that will be much easier to heal and cause less distress. A specialized medical instrument known as an arthroscope uses a small camera to further assist the surgeon in his work with several similar tools. This allows your orthopedic surgeon to do the work of a regular surgery without any large incisions, and is the origin of the overarching branch of our minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery.

What Can Minimally Invasive Surgery Treat?

Through minimally invasive surgery, surgeons are able to address a large number of orthopedic afflictions of the knees, hips, wrists and shoulders.

  • Knee arthroscopy can address specific repairs to the ACL, meniscus and synovial membranes.
  • Hip arthroscopy can treat injuries, dysplasia, joint and synovial membrane infection, and femoroacetabular impingement.
  • Wrist arthroscopy may be used in carpal tunnel release procedures or for fractures or tears in the ligament.
  • Shoulder arthroscopy repairs rotator cuff damage, shoulder instabilities and labral damage; it can also be used to remove bone spurs and inflamed tissue.
  • Many more…

Total joint replacement for the knee, hip and shoulder also have options for minimally invasive surgeries. Orthopedic surgeries that were once considered a final option can now take advantage of all the benefits of minimally invasive surgical techniques.

What Makes Minimally Invasive Surgery Better?

Putting aside the usual fears about traditional surgery, minimally invasive surgery improves upon older techniques in a number of ways.

  • Less time involved in surgery
  • Less risk of complications, including infection or unintended scarring
  • Less time in overall hospitalization
  • Less time in recovery, post hospitalization
  • Reduced need for prescription medications in recovery
  • Fewer to no visible scars

And these improvements are, by no means, experimental. Decades of scientific development and study have made minimally invasive surgery techniques much more reliable and safe compared to traditional surgery, and your surgeon has specialized in the latest techniques to provide the best care with the least pain and downtime involved. However, you should still talk to your orthopedist about any risks involved with your particular surgery, and note that the use of anesthesia may be required.

What Other Questions Should I Be Asking?

Not every orthopedic complication is the same. And while there are standards for surgical procedures, every patient should discuss and familiarize themselves with the following points when understanding their surgery.

  • “Do I have any condition that presents a risk for minimally invasive surgery?”
  • “What technique or techniques are preferable for my condition?”
  • “Will I need anesthesia and what does that mean for me?”
  • “Is there any risk that traditional surgery will be necessary?”
  • “Will there be any restrictions to what I can do during my recovery?”
  • “Will I need any medications after my surgery?”

Talk to Thunder Basin Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Today

Working with Thunder Basin Orthopaedics, you can go forward knowing that an experienced and supportive staff and top-ranked surgeons are right behind you. Contact us today and schedule your appointment to find out how to get your body back on track.