Minimally invasive orthopedic surgery is a technique used to treat various orthopedic conditions. Surgeon’s use a variety of techniques to operate with less damage to the body than with open surgery. In general, this type of surgery involves smaller incisions, less tissue damage, and shorter recovery times compared to traditional surgery methods. In terms of orthopedic surgery, this means the difference between exposing the entire joint through a large, open incision and using small, targeted incisions to address only the problem area. Minimally invasive orthopedic surgery can be done on any joint, including knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and ankle. For the purpose of this blog, we will only be addressing the hip and knee joint.

What is minimally invasive orthopedic surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery has become increasingly popular over the past few decades across all medical specialties, including the field of orthopedics. New research and technologies have developed improved methods of many orthopedic surgical procedures. These procedures include arthroscopic repairs of sports injuries and microscopic treatment of complex musculoskeletal conditions, and even total joint replacement.

What kind of orthopedic surgeries can be done with a minimally invasive technique?

The minimally invasive technique can be used for a variety of orthopedic surgeries, including knee and hip repairs through arthroscopy and total joint replacement.

Arthroscopic surgery can be helpful in the diagnosis and treatment of sports injuries, tendon tears, debridement (damaged tissue and loose body removal), and the removal of inflamed synovium. In arthroscopic surgery for a knee or hip joint, an orthopedic surgeon makes a small incision in the patient’s skin and inserts a narrow camera to magnify and illuminate the structures inside the joint.

Arthroscopy allows the surgeon to see inside your joint without making a large incision. They can repair joint damage and torn tendons during arthroscopy, with pencil-thin surgical instruments inserted through additional small incisions. Knees and hips benefit greatly from this procedure, allowing surgeons to better diagnose joint issues, as well as repair them without having to put a patient through a long and taxing surgery.

Minimally invasive total joint replacement surgery is performed through a shorter incision, typically 4 to 6 inches versus 8 to 12 inches for both a traditional knee and hip replacement. A smaller incision allows for less tissue disturbance and is less invasive overall. Anterior hip replacement is an example of minimally invasive surgery that only requires a small incision (around 4 inches) as opposed to a traditional hip replacement, which often involves a much larger incision (8-12 inches).

Robotic-assisted knee replacement surgery is another alternative to the conventional knee replacement procedure. It is performed using specialized technology that allows your surgeon to precisely perform the surgery through a smaller incision as compared to traditional replacements.

What are the main benefits of minimally invasive orthopedic surgery?

There are many benefits that may come as a result of minimally invasive orthopedic surgery. These benefits may include decreased pain, reduced blood loss, fewer complications and infections, a faster healing process, and a quicker recovery to return to your daily activities. Another benefit of minimally invasive surgery is that many of these procedures can be performed in an outpatient setting. This helps with reducing costs as well as helping patients get back to their regular lives sooner. There can be more options for anesthesia as well, ranging from local to general. Choice of anesthesia varies depending on the nature of the procedure and preferences of the patient and surgeon.

Who is a candidate for minimally invasive orthopedic surgery?

For many orthopedic injuries and conditions, non-surgical treatment options and traditional surgery may still be the preferred methods of treatment. Minimally invasive surgery may not be for everyone. Medical conditions and health criteria should be met to undergo the procedure. Age, weight, health and diagnosis will all be taken into consideration when deciding if you qualify for minimally invasive surgery.

How does this type of surgery improve patient outcomes and recovery times compared to traditional methods?

For patients, minimally invasive orthopedic surgery means smaller incisions and quicker recovery time as opposed to that of traditional surgery. The recovery time after minimally invasive surgery is typically three times faster than traditional open surgery. This can vary with each patient as it depends on the size and complexity of the procedure, however, it can often be much shorter than traditional surgery. There can be a higher risk of infection with traditional surgery because the incisions are larger. Larger incisions mean that the patient may experience more discomfort for a longer period. Therefore, due to potential higher risks and longer recovery time, more and more surgeons opt for less invasive options if they can achieve the desired outcomes and if the patient is a good candidate for it.

The average hospital stay for minimally invasive surgery is often much less than traditional surgery. It will depend on the type of surgery, but for many, minimally invasive procedures will be out-patient surgery, which mean a patients can usually return home the same day.

The main benefit of minimally invasive orthopedic surgery is that a patient can often achieve the same results as a traditional approach but with a lower chance of infection, minimal scarring, less pain, and faster recovery time.

The Orthopedic Specialty Center of Northern California is focused on providing a frictionless patient experience throughout your journey with your hip or knee and will help guide you to the best treatment for your individual needs.

Frequently asked questions regarding minimally invasive orthopedic surgery

What is minimally invasive surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery refers to any surgical procedure that is performed through tiny incisions instead of a large opening. Surgeon’s use a variety of techniques to operate with less damage to the body than with open surgery.

What orthopedic surgeries can be done by using a minimally invasive technique?

Minimally invasive orthopedic surgery can be done on any joint, including knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and ankle. Procedures using this technique include arthroscopic repairs of sports injuries and microscopic treatment of complex musculoskeletal conditions, and even total joint replacement.

Is arthroscopic surgery considered minimally invasive?

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used by orthopedic surgeons to visualize, diagnose, and treat problems inside the joint. By using only tiny incisions, arthroscopy can be performed without a major operation, and many can be done as an outpatient procedure.

Is a robotic-assisted total joint replacement considered minimally invasive?

Robotic surgery is a type of minimally invasive surgery which uses advanced surgical techniques and cutting-edge technology to perform many types of procedures, including joint replacement.

Is an anterior replacement surgery considered minimally invasive?

The anterior approach is a minimally invasive way to perform hip replacement surgery. There can be many advantages over a traditional approach, with one being that the incision for anterior approach is only three or four inches, compared to up to 12 inches with the traditional approach.

What are the main benefits of minimally invasive orthopedic surgery over traditional?

Benefits of minimally invasive orthopedic surgery may include decreased pain, reduced blood loss, fewer complications and infections, a faster healing process, and a quicker recovery to return to your daily activities. Procedures can often be performed in an outpatient setting, helping to reduce costs as well as allowing patients get back to their regular lives sooner.

Am I a candidate for minimally invasive orthopedic surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery may not be for everyone. Age, weight, health and diagnosis will all be taken into consideration when deciding if you qualify for minimally invasive surgery. If you are dealing with pain related to your joints, talk to an orthopedic surgeon about your options and if you are a candidate for minimally invasive surgery.

What is the average hospital stay for minimally invasive orthopedic surgery?

The average hospital stay for minimally invasive surgery is often much less than traditional surgery. It will depend on the type of surgery, but for many, minimally invasive procedures will be out-patient surgery, which mean a patients can usually return home the same day.

How long will recovery take from a minimally invasive orthopedic surgery?

The recovery time after minimally invasive surgery is typically three times faster than traditional open surgery. This can vary with each patient as it depends on the size and complexity of the procedure, however, it can often be much shorter than traditional surgery.

What are the pros and cons to minimally invasive orthopedic surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery is generally less risky than traditional surgery but still comes with its pros and cons.

Pros: Less expensive, shorter hospital stay, less trauma to the patient, less overall pain, less blood loss, smaller incision.

Cons: Requires special equipment, a trained specialist is required, equipment can be more expensive, some procedures, possible complications, bleeding.



If you’d like to see if you’d be a candidate for minimally invasive orthopedic surgery, we invite you to schedule an appointment with our team. Please click here to contact us.