July 21, 2015


At the Spine Institute Northwest, we are always working to bring patients the newest cutting-edge procedures for relieving back and neck pain. We are excited to now offer a new MIS Fusion System as an option for patients who are candidates for fusion procedures.

This MIS Fusion System offers an even smaller incision than other minimally invasive procedures, which already boast much smaller incisions than traditional open-back surgeries. In most minimally invasive fusion surgeries, metal instruments called pedicle screws and rods are used to secure the affected vertebra. This could cause damage to surrounding muscle tissue.


Instead of pedicle screws and rods, the latest MIS Fusion System offers a different kind of device that braces the spine in order to allow healing. A small clip-like titanium implant is attached to the spinous processes, which are the bony parts of the spine that lie closest to the skin (and thus furthest from nerves). The device can also hold bone graft material, encouraging the body to produce new bone and strengthen the spine. A 2010 study found that it helped address symptoms of back and leg pain at the source in addition to encouraging vertebrae to fuse.


This MIS Fusion System boasts the advantages of a minimally invasive procedure, including less blood loss and the ability to have the surgery performed as an outpatient procedure. Compared to other minimally invasive fusion procedures with pedicle screw fixation, research has found that procedures with this device can offer less postoperative pain, a quicker recovery, less muscle trauma, and a shorter surgery.

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Who is a candidate for this MIS Fusion System?

If you suffer from chronic back and leg pain that has not responded to more conservative treatments, you may be a candidate for this procedure. Symptoms may include lower back pain that intensifies with prolonged sitting, standing, or exercise; a decreased range of motion including difficulty bending and twisting; tightness in the hamstrings; shooting or burning pain in the legs; weakness in the legs or feet; and numbness or tingling in the legs. Many patients with degenerative conditions that can be treated with a single-level fusion are good candidates for this device. It also may be an option for patients who may not be able to handle a more extensive procedure or a lengthy recovery, including the elderly and those with other medical conditions.

Though this MIS Fusion System is versatile and can be used in a range of fusion procedures, only a surgeon can determine whether the device will work in your case. Treatments need to be tailored to each patient’s specific condition and history.
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What happens during minimally invasive surgery with the MIS Fusion System?

The device attaches to the bony parts of the spine that are closest to the skin, rather than nearer to the spinal canal as with some other fusion implants. This means that there is lower risk of damaging delicate spinal nerves. Though the exact size of the surgical incision is determined by your particular case, clinical experience has shown that the design and size of this device allows for a smaller incision and a less traumatic surgical procedure.

To implant the device, the surgeon begins by making a single incision over the spine at the location of the affected vertebral segment. Then the surrounding muscle and tissue are moved aside to implant the device. Using specialized instruments, the surgeon clips the device into place on the spinous process. The center of the device can be loaded with bone graft material, which helps the body create new bone, strengthening the spine. After the device is secured, the surgeon closes up the incision site.

Patients can generally return home the same day following this minimally invasive outpatient procedure, and clinical experience has shown that many MIS Fusion System patients experience a less painful, quicker recovery than patients who have pedicle screw fixation. To give yourself the best chance of a successful fusion, it is extremely important that you follow all of the guidelines provided by your surgeon for postoperative and recovery care.

Are you suffering from chronic back pain, or have you been told that you may need fusion surgery? Contact the Spine Institute Northwest today at (425) 486-1000 to learn more about the MIS Fusion System and how to find out if you are a candidate for the device.