The METRx is a technologically advanced surgical system that was developed to perform minimally invasive discectomies.
Generally speaking, a discectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of a disc. Discectomies are not particularly new procedures but many recent technological advances have changed the way the procedure is performed for many patients.
The METRx system allows the same disc removal to be performed through a smaller incision site by dilating the muscles rather than having to fully retract them.
Who Is A Candidate For This Procedure?
The majority of patients who benefit from this surgery are patients with a herniated disc, degeneration of a disc, or another injury to a specific disc in either the thoracic or lumbar region of their spine. In many cases, there are less invasive treatment options, such as physical therapy, that will offer relief. However, if the patient begins to experience pain or numbness in their legs that limits their functionality or if they begin to have trouble with bladder control, the physician will likely recommend this procedure.
How Is The Surgery Performed?
Traditional discectomies involve making a 10-12 inch incision along the spinal column and retracting the muscles to the side so that the surgeon can access and visualize the treatment area. However, the METRx system allows the surgeon to make the same spinal repairs through smaller incision sites. The system uses a series of tubes, or dilators, to separate bands of muscle temporarily. The surgeon will make a one-inch incision that will allow them to place a small tube in the muscle. Then they will place a slightly large tube around the first one and continue to increase the size of the tube until the opening is large enough to work through. The surgeon will also utilize imaging technology, such as a fluoroscope, to see the surgical site in depth without having to completely retracting the muscles. Once the surgeon is done, they will remove the dilator and close the incision.
What Are The Recovery And Outlook Like?
After the procedure is over, the patient will be closely monitored in a recovery area for approximately an hour. As long as the patient’s vital signs are stable during this recovery time, they will be moved to another room to begin light activities. In many cases, patients will be released home the same day but others may stay in the hospital for as many as two days. Most physicians will provide a short-term narcotics prescription to help patients deal with pain during the recovery process. The physician will also provide specific instructions about permitted medications and activities at the time of discharge. Many patients report experiencing pain relief within the first two days following surgery.
What Are The Benefits Of This Procedure?
The main benefit of this procedure is that it is much less invasive than traditional discectomies. This means that the incision site is significantly smaller, which decreases the risk of post-operative infection. Additionally, this method puts far less strain on the muscles in the back, which reduces the recovery pain for patients.