H. M. Mayer


February 2000, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp S035 - S043 original article Read Full Article 10.1007/PL00010020

First Online: 25 February 2000

The terms ‘minimally invasive’ or ‘less invasive surgery’ have been used recently to describe surgical approaches or operations that are performed with less trauma to anatomical structures on the way to or surrounding the surgical ‘target area’. These types of surgical procedures are usually performed with the help of ‘high-tech’ instruments such as surgical endoscopes or surgical microscopes, modern video techniques and automated instruments. Within the last 10 years, such techniques have been developed in the field of spinal surgery. The application of minimally or less invasive procedures has concentrated predominantly on anterior approaches to the thoracic and lumbar spine. This article describes two anterior approach techniques for performing anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) through a minimally invasive retroperitoneal or transperitoneal approach. The technical principles are microsurgical modifications of traditional anterior approaches to the lumbar spine. Through small (4-cm) skin incisions, the target area can be exposed. Preliminary results suggest decreased peri - and postoperative morbidity, less blood loss, earlier rehabilitation and acceptable complication rates. The technique is currently used by the author for all patients requiring anterior lumbar interbody fusion.


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