Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS) in Washington DC, Baltimore, Maryland, Virginia | MedStar Health

Our surgeons are fellowship-trained and highly experienced in performing a variety of minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) procedures, which mean smaller incisions, less blood loss, and a faster recovery. Our experts are able to treat a wide spectrum of spinal conditions using the latest computer-assisted techniques. Our goal is to get you back to doing the activities you love as quickly and safely as possible. Our expert surgeons are located in Baltimore, Washington DC, Virginia and central Maryland.

What is minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS)?

Minimally invasive spine surgery is an alternative surgical option for patients suffering from a spinal disorder, such as degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, scoliosis, or spinal stenosis. Advanced technologies paired with innovative surgical techniques allow these minimally invasive spinal surgeries to repair the spine with reduced risk and decreased recovery time.

Why is minimally invasive spine surgery performed?

Eight out of ten Americans experience neck or back pain at some point in their lives. If this happens, you want the best specialists and treatments available. MedStar Health has experienced, fellowship-trained spine specialists who diagnose and treat a variety of complex conditions related to the spine and back, including:

Back to Normal: Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery Resolves Pain, Restores Mobility (PDF)

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It’s time to stop letting neck or back pain keep you from doing the activities you love. Take our free spine health risk assessment by clicking on your preferred region (Central Maryland region or Washington, DC region) to determine your risk for spine issues and what we can do to help.

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What does minimally invasive spine surgery involve?

Spine surgery can involve the neck or back, each of which has specific techniques and procedures that vary depending on the condition and location. Some of the most common minimally invasive spinal surgeries are listed below

Minimally invasive neck surgeries

Some of the minimally invasive surgeries that are most commonly performed at MedStar Health include the following:

  • Cervical discectomy and foraminotomy – This is a procedure that widens the tunnel (foramen) in the cervical (neck) spine where nerve roots leave the spinal canal. The foraminotomy is combined with a discectomy to remove any material that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord

Minimally invasive back surgeries

The following minimally invasive surgeries are commonly performed at MedStar Health:

  • Lumbar discectomy: The spine is made up of vertebrae, and in between each pair of vertebrae is a protective padding known as a disc. Deterioration of a disc can occur as a result of a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease. A discectomy is the surgical removal of material that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord due to a herniated or bulging disc in the lumbar spine (lower back)

  • Lumbar laminectomy: The structures that cause compression of the nerves in spinal stenosis can be removed with minimal invasiveness

What are the benefits?

By using smaller incisions, our surgeons are able to minimize damage to the surrounding muscles and ligaments of the spine. When compared to traditional surgery, these less invasive surgeries allow for the following benefits:


  • What causes spine problems? What are the symptoms or warning signs to look out for?

    There are many causes of spine problems. Common injuries, including disc herniations that compress nerves in the neck or lumbar spine, can happen as part of the normal aging process. More serious problems, including tumors, a collapse of the spinal column, and infections, can also occur. Trauma from accidents or falls can cause fractures and nerve compression, which may require surgical attention.

    The warning signs you should look for include severe neck or back pain that doesn’t subside with rest or over-the-counter medications, and severe pain in either the arm or leg that doesn’t go away.

  • Is there anything I can do to prevent spine problems?

    Yes, regular exercise, specifically focusing on core stability and sustaining muscle strength can help protect the spine from injury. Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking can also be beneficial in reducing the risk of spinal complications.

  • I have been feeling back pain. When should I see a doctor?

    Back pain is common and can be treated with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. If pain persists for longer than two weeks, or if there is pain, numbness, tingling, or a sense of weakness in the arms or legs, it is time to see a doctor. The diagnostic process begins with an MRI to assess the severity of the issue, and then treatment options are discussed.

  • How can I tell the difference between a strained muscle and a disc herniation?

    These injuries are often treated similarly at first, using anti-inflammatory medications, heat, ice, stretching, and physical therapy, if needed. If you develop numbness, tingling, or weakness that radiates down the arms or legs, the injury could be a nerve issue resulting from a herniated disk.

  • When is surgery necessary?

    Surgery is sometimes necessary if someone experiences severe pain or movement limitations or significant weakness or numbness. In many cases, patients have tried conservative treatments of physical therapy and injections without success. Surgery can be a good option in these circumstances to ease pain, restore function and improve mobility and help the patient resume normal activities.

  • Can surgery be avoided? What are some other treatment options?

    Many spine-related injuries improve without surgical intervention. Physical therapy and core-strengthening exercises can be effective in reducing symptoms. Steroid injections can also help with pain management.

  • What does it mean when spine surgery is minimally invasive?

    Though often successful, traditional spine surgery can involve extensive muscle manipulation at the injury site. This results in a longer recovery process that impacts your mobility, and can increase risks for infection and blood loss.

    Minimally invasive spine surgery involves much smaller incisions and techniques that minimize trauma to the supporting tissues of the spine such as muscles. This type of surgery allows you to mobilize quickly after surgery and lowers the risk of complications and infections. Our specialized team ensures that the most advanced techniques are accessible to you.

  • Am I a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery?

    Depending on the specific problem and circumstance of the spinal injury, you could be a potential candidate for minimally invasive procedures. Our providers work with patients to determine the best course of treatment.

  • What types of surgeries do you perform?

    We treat a range of conditions that affect the spine, from the base of the skull to the tailbone. Common procedures include:

    • Removing disc herniations
    • Disc replacement procedures
    • Fusion surgeries
    • Treating complex conditions, including tumors, infections, and deformities
  • What is motion preservation?

    Maintaining the function of the spine is an important long-term consideration for patients requiring spinal surgery. In some fusion surgery cases, patients may need additional surgery to address changes at adjacent levels in the spine after the procedure. Fortunately, spine surgeons have developed prosthesis devices that help preserve the motion of the cervical and lumbar spine and decrease future adjacent level deterioration. These devices can be an alternative option to maximize mobility for appropriately selected patients.

  • What is artificial disc replacement?

    Artificial disc replacement involves placing plastic or metal discs during surgery to allow for continued motion at the procedure site. The devices are long-lasting and minimize the strain on the areas above and below the injury. If you are a candidate for this treatment, this procedure is often the preferred method.

  • What should I expect in terms of recovery? Does it vary by treatment?

    Minimally invasive surgeries allow you to be mobile more quickly than traditional procedures. In many cases, patients are out of bed within a day or two after these types of surgeries. Generally, these patients can resume normal activities in four to six weeks, though physical therapy is sometimes recommended to help rebuild muscle strength.

    More complicated procedures, including fusions, require longer recovery times, and it can take patients more than six months to return to sports or other vigorous activities. However, these patients can often begin light exercise, such as walking, soon after the procedure if their provider has cleared them.

  • What is my long-term outlook if I have surgery? Do I need to make any lifestyle changes?

    Patients can often return to their usual exercise regimens and activities after follow-up appointments that determine if they are healing appropriately. Following more intensive procedures, such as fusions, tumor surgeries, or operations for trauma or scoliosis, patients may be limited from participating in high-impact exercising or intense sports. In general, most surgical patients are not required to make any lifestyle changes after a full recovery.

  • What is the difference between an orthopedic spine surgeon and a neuro-spine surgeon?

    In the treatment of the spine, both orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons complete similar work, including decompression of the spinal cord and nerves and placing instrumentation in the spine for disc replacement and fusion procedures. Neurosurgeons also typically perform brain surgery and are trained to remove tumors of the nerves and spinal cord. Both orthopedic and neurosurgeons have fellowship or subspecialty training in spine surgery.

Our locations

Convenient locations in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Maryland, and Virginia.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery: Dr. Victor Du

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