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Minimally Invasive Surgery For Mid-Back Pain

  • Category: Back Surgery
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: DR. HAMID ABBASI

Thoracic or mid-level back pain isn’t as common a problem as lower back pain is in the general population. It’s not only a costly medical issue but it can be a debilitating problem that restricts the normal daily activities of those who are affected. While certain conditions causing mid-level back pain need to be managed with procedures such as spinal fusions made through large surgical openings made via a thoracotomy (opening in the chest) near the middle of the back, there are surgeons who can perform such intricate work through a minimally invasive procedure.

Minimally invasive spinal surgery with direct thoracic interbody fusion (MIS-DTIF) was designed specifically for the thoracic spine to reduce the time spent operating on the patient, which benefits the patient in terms of less time spent receiving a general anesthetic and for the surgeon having to perform the procedure, a shorter hospital stay for the patient which reduces the risk of contracting a hospital-borne infection, and reduced blood loss due to the minimal manipulation of the surgical site. Therefore, the complication rate of this minimally invasive procedure is lower than that of other open procedures and the overall cost of the former is considerably less than the latterly mentioned surgery.

Surgeons at medical centers such as Inspired Spine are some of the only specialists who are able to perform this minimally invasive procedure where no incisions or disruptions are made in the ribs and the anatomy around them. Other more traditional open surgeries require the permanent removal of at least one rib in order to perform the procedure whereas with MIS-DTIF it is not necessary to do so.

What conditions are managed?

Patients with the following conditions and pathologies may benefit from this minimally invasive procedure:

  • Degenerative disc disease where the discs between the spinal bones (vertebrae) degenerate due to the impact of daily stress on the spinal column or due to acute or persistent injuries.

  • Disc herniation where the central part of the disc bulges out, or rupture of the disc where the gel-like material from the inside of the structure leaks out and either irritates or compresses the nerves or nerves roots coming out of the spinal column.

Patients who underwent this procedure have reported that the thoracic pain caused by the pathology they were suffering from improved significantly enough for them to have minimal to no pain and be able to get back to performing their normal daily activities.

Safety and Efficacy

Recent studies show that patients who underwent this form of surgery bled, on average, around 58ml during the procedure and spent around 50 minutes in surgery. Fluoroscopy time, where imaging is used to correctly position the fusion instruments, averaged around six minutes thereby reducing the amount of radiation the patient was exposed to compared to exposure in the open procedures.

30 days after the procedure, patients reported that they experienced, on average, a 5.3 point reduction in pain on a 10-point pain scale.


MIS-DTIF for mid-back pain caused by thoracic spine pathologies is a very safe, quick and effective form of surgical treatment that offers excellent outcomes with minimal complications and improves the quality of life of patients.