Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

For a Quicker Recovery and Outstanding Results

Advanced Treatment For Back & Neck Pain

Our Approach to Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

When it comes to accessing quality care for spinal disorders and related health problems in Sonoma County, the Total Spine Health Program at SRO provides both patients and referring physicians a complete, balanced approach to the treatment of spinal pathology.

With Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery our goal is to get patients back to a more enjoyable experience of life using minimally invasive techniques. This surgery involves the use of tiny incisions that treat the spinal problem without damaging surrounding muscle and tissue.


Reduced time in the hospital

Shortened recovery time

Less blood loss during the procedure

Smaller scar/incision

Minimal Post-Op Pain

Causes of Back Pain

Adults between 30 to 60 year olds are most likely to experience back pain caused by lumbar disc herniation or degenerative disc disease or from a back muscle or soft tissue strain while older adults are more likely to suffer from pain related to joint degeneration caused by osteoarthritis or spinal stenosis or compression fracture.

A Wide Range of Symptoms

Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain. Acute back pain comes on suddenly and usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks and falls into the category of ‘chronic’ only when it lasts longer than three months.

When Surgery is the Best Option

Since some symptoms of low back strain can point to more serious conditions, it’s important to consult a doctor when symptoms linger or disrupt normal routines. Any numbness and weakness in the legs, or bowel and bladder problems, can be a sign of nerve damage requiring immediate medical attention.

Less Invasive, Better Recovery

Minimally invasive spinal fusion is also commonly performed from the side. Two procedures that use a side approach are extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF) and direct lateral interbody fusion (DLIF). The benefit of these lateral fusion surgeries is that they do not injure the muscles in the back and they do not tug or pull on the nerves in the spinal canal.

MIS Lumbar Diskectomy

A herniated disk in the lower back that pinches a nerve may cause severe leg pain, numbness, or weakness. To surgically relieve these symptoms the disk is removed. This procedure is called a diskectomy. The patient is positioned face-down and a small incision is made over the location of the herniated disk. The surgeon inserts the retractor and removes a small amount of the lamina bone. This provides the surgeon with a view of the spinal nerve and the disk. The surgeon carefully retracts the nerve and removes only the damaged disk.

This minimally invasive technique can also be used for herniated disks in the neck.

MIS Lumbar Fusion

A standard open lumbar fusion may be performed from the back, through the abdomen, or from the side. Minimally invasive lumbar fusions can be done the same way. A common MISS fusion is the transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) Using this technique, the surgeon approaches the spine a little bit from the side, which reduces how much of the spinal nerve must be moved.

About SRO’s Minimally Invasive XLIF®

The XLIF (eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion) is an approach to spinal fusion in which the surgeon accesses the intervertebral disc space and fuses the lumbar spine (low back) using a surgical approach from the side (lateral) rather than from the front (anterior) or the back (posterior). The XLIF may not be ideal for every situation, but it is one of a number of spinal fusion options that can be used to treat specific types of lumbar spinal disorders including;

  • lumbar degenerative disc disease
  • spondylolisthesis
  • scoliosis and deformity
  • recurrent lumbar disc herni-ations
  • lumbar stenosis

SRO Spine Center Director – Dr. Christian Athanassious

Dr. Christian Athanassious is a board certified spine surgeon with fellowship training in spine surgery from Stanford University. He is the Medical Director of The Total Spine Health Center. An advocate of the whole-body medical approach to treating patients, Dr. Athanassious completed his undergraduate degree in Psychology from UC Davis with the intention of pursuing his medical doctorate. With a background in psychology, Dr. Athanassious never loses sight of the mind/body connection when considering the best treatment for his patients.

“The surgery was flawless and the healing process went better than expected. Between the rehabilitation center and the ongoing care from Dr. Athanassious, it was challenging, but I rehabilitated really quickly. Prior to the surgery, I could barely walk without pain. I am now doing things that I never thought I could do again.”

“Dr. Athanassious carefully walked me through all of my treatment options and we decided on my procedure together. He performed a type of spinal surgery called an extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF) on me in November, and today I am free of my symptoms of sciatica.”

“As a result of the surgery, I feel stable again, my activity level has increased and I’m able to do more things, like taking long walks helping me to lose 25 pounds within two months. I’m doing pretty much everything I normally did before the surgery and more. My range of motion is as good or better now.”