Text size:

Innovative Procedure for Back Problems

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Available Through Memorial Healthcare System

“I’m so grateful to Dr. Maliner and all the people in the physical therapy room,� says 	
  Livia.

July 2006 — Millions of people know the discomfort and immobility caused by a bad back. For cases that are severe enough to require an operation, now there's a new surgical technique that offers fewer complications, reduced postoperative pain and a faster recovery period. Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) is appropriate for certain types of conditions, including herniated discs, lumbar stenosis, age-related disc degeneration and misaligned vertebrae. MISS is a microsurgical technique that can be quickly performed through a one-inch incision in the back, with less damage to the surrounding tissues compared to conventional open surgery.

"MISS patients typically go home the same day, and within a week, they're usually able to resume their normal routines. MISS also lessens the likelihood of complications that could lead to more surgery in the future," says Lloyd Maliner, MD, a board-certified neurosurgeon on the medical staff of Memorial Regional Hospital, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, Memorial Hospital West, Memorial Hospital Miramar and Memorial Hospital Pembroke.

Livia of Miramar underwent MISS two years ago when she got out of bed one morning and felt a sudden, wrenching sensation in the middle of her back.

Unable to stand and debilitated by pain, Livia, 52, was transported by ambulance to Memorial Hospital West. Shortly after her arrival in the emergency room, her symptoms intensified, leaving her paralyzed below the waist. An MRI revealed the root of the problem: a herniated thoracic disc that pressed against her spinal cord.

After Dr. Maliner performed emergency MISS to eliminate the pressure on her spinal cord, Livia recuperated at Memorial Regional Hospital. Within days, she was beginning to regain complete function with the help of physical therapy.

Today Livia does all the things she loved before, like cooking, tending her yard and playing with her grandson. Although conventional open surgery might have reversed her paralysis just as successfully, her rapid recovery immediately following her injury was made possible by the minimally invasive nature of her operation and the special expertise of Dr. Maliner, who is one of only a few neurosurgeons in the country qualified to perform MISS on the delicate thoracic region.

Of course, not everyone who undergoes MISS is a trauma patient facing permanent paralysis. Many people choose to have the procedure on the recommendation of a physician when chronic back problems fail to respond to non-surgical treatment and conventional open surgery is deemed too risky. The relatively quick recovery period after MISS also means less time off from work and less disruption to daily living, compared to the weeks and sometimes months of recovery that some patients require after undergoing open surgery.

MISS cannot cure every affliction of the spine, but for people who do need a spinal operation, it can make a positive difference. Please ask your physician if MISS is appropriate for you.

If you would like a referral to a physician, please call Memorial Physician Referral Service toll-free at (800) 944-DOCS. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.