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What is laparoscopic spine surgery?

The prospect of spine surgery can feel intimidating, but it can be helpful to consider some of the advances in surgical technique that can make your surgery faster and safer with a shorter recovery time.

Laparoscopic spine surgery, also known as laparoscopy, is minimally invasive surgery that allows a surgeon to perform a spine operation through small puncture holes instead of a large incision. A telescope is inserted through one of the punctures, projecting a picture on a television screen that allows the surgeon to see your spine. Additional punctures are created where specialized surgical instruments are placed, allowing your surgeon to work on your spine.

Why it's done

With laparoscopic spine surgery, you’ll typically have smaller incisions, less blood loss, less pain, a shorter length of stay in the hospital and a quicker return to activities of daily living than you would with an open procedure.

This minimally invasive technique is used to treat many conditions in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine. If you have been diagnosed with a spine condition that requires surgery, your doctor will discuss whether a laparoscopic procedure is an option for you. Some spine conditions that can be treated with this minimally invasive approach include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated discs
  • Bone spurs
  • Ligament hypertrophy
  • Spinal stenosis


Like with any surgical treatment, there is a risk of complications with laparoscopy spine surgery. These include:

  • Anesthesia complications
  • Thrombophlebitis (blood clots that form in the veins in the legs)
  • Infection
  • Hardware or implant migration (metal screws, plates, rods or implants used to hold and support vertebrae can shift from their correct position, requiring a second surgical procedure)
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Persistent pain


It is likely you will be up and walking within hours after your procedure. However, it is normal to have some pain after laparoscopic spine surgery. You will be prescribed pain medication to relieve discomfort and reduce inflammation.

Spine surgery is a complex procedure that requires you to closely follow the guidelines provided to you by your surgical team. Your body needs time to recover and heal damaged tissues. Recovery time is a process that will help you regain your strength and provide you with the best possible outcome from your procedure.

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