Surgical Infections in Minimally Invasive vs Open Spinal Surgery

Review of Ee WW, et al.: Does minimally invasive surgery have a lower risk of surgical site infections compared with open spinal surgery. Clin Orthop Relat Res Jul 12 2013 (Epub).


A review was performed of 2299 patients who underwent lumbar spinal surgery.  Types of surgeries included transforaminal lumbar interbody fusions, lumbar laminectomies, and lumbar discectomies.  Analysis indicates that patients undergoing open spinal surgery were 5.77 times more likely to develop an infection compared to patients who underwent minimally invasive approaches. This is a dramatic and statistically significant difference. 

Many factors are known to affect risk of surgical infections.  Previously known factors include diabetes, body mass index, number of levels operated on, and length of surgery.  It has long been our observation that patients undergoing minimally invasive spinal surgery are also much less likely to have an infection than patients having open surgery.  This article confirms our own findings.  Reasons for this may include the smaller incision size, less tissue trauma, lower blood loss, and faster surgery times. 

This article further adds to the body of research showing the safety of minimally invasive spinal surgery.  Your surgeons at the Texas Spine and Neurosurgery Center are experts in minimally invasive spinal surgery.  We pioneered may advances in this type of treatment.  Minimally invasive surgery is associated with a lower risk of complications, less pain, and faster recovery than standard open spinal surgery.


By Rajesh K. Bindal, M.D.