Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) or endoscopic surgery can effectively correct problems with far less trauma to surrounding tissues than traditional or “open” surgery, in which a large incision is made. Patients usually experience faster recovery times, reduced infection and blood loss, and faster return to their regular activities.
Surgery is performed using an endoscope — a slim tube with a tiny camera to convey detailed video images of the brain or spine. Small instruments are slipped through the tube to cut, biopsy, or destroy abnormal tissue or tumors in the brain, or remove herniated discs or perform other procedures involving the spine. Access is gained through either small incisions of less than an inch — incisions so small that damage to surrounding muscles and other tissues is avoided — or through existing openings, such as nasal passages.
More and more spine procedures can be performed this way, to the benefit of patients. For example, patients can leave the hospital four hours after a microdiscectomy is performed to remove a herniated disc.