Degenerative disease of the lumbar spine is a common and increasingly prevalent condition that is often implicated as the primary reason for chronic low back pain and the leading cause of disability in the western world. Surgical management of lumbar degenerative disease has historically been approached by way of open surgical procedures aimed at decompressing and/or stabilizing the lumbar spine. Advances in technology and surgical instrumentation have led to minimally invasive surgical techniques being developed and increasingly used in the treatment of lumbar degenerative disease. Compared to the traditional open spine surgery, minimally invasive techniques require smaller incisions and decrease approach-related morbidity by avoiding muscle crush injury by self-retaining retractors, preventing the disruption of tendon attachment sites of important muscles at the spinous processes, using known anatomic neurovascular and muscle planes, and minimizing collateral soft-tissue injury by limiting the width of the surgical corridor. The theoretical benefits of minimally invasive surgery over traditional open surgery include reduced blood loss, decreased postoperative pain and narcotics use, shorter hospital length of stay, faster recover and quicker return to work and normal activity. This paper describes the different minimally invasive techniques that are currently available for the treatment of degenerative disease of the lumbar spine.
Keywords: Decompression; Degenerative disease; Indirect decompression techniques; Interbody fusion; Lumbar spine; Minimally invasive surgery; Posterolateral fusion; Spine surgery.