In the past decade, there has been a substantial increase in interest in minimally invasive procedures in all areas of medicine, particularly for spinal disorders. Some of these techniques represent notable advances in spinal care and have major roles in the care of patients with back-related symptoms. Other techniques appear to offer no benefit and in some cases may be less effective than conventional treatments. Percutaneous lumbar diskectomy techniques hold considerable promise; however, lumbar microdiskectomy is the gold standard for surgical treatment of lumbar disk protrusion with radiculopathy. Intradiskal electrothermal therapy is emerging as a useful option for selected patients with intractable mechanical back pain whose only other option historically has been a spinal fusion. Percutaneous fusion techniques are in their infancy and may prove to be beneficial for these patients as well. Percutaneous vertebral augmentation, including vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty, has become the treatment of choice for many patients with intractable back pain secondary to vertebral insufficiency fractures. Spinal injections are important for evaluating and managing spinal pain and can be extremely useful diagnostically and therapeutically. This multidisciplinary review outlines the status of these procedures and offers suggestions for their use in patient care.
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