Is minimally invasive orthopedic surgery safer than open? A systematic review of systematic reviews

Wardah Rafaqat, Tashfeen Ahmad, Muhammad Talal Ibrahim, Sudhesh Kumar, Eric M. Bluman, Khalid S. Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: To assess the safety of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for orthopedic spinal, upper limb and lower limb procedures, this systematic review of systematic reviews compared their complications with open procedures. Materials and methods: A literature search was conducted electronically (PubMed, Cochrane library and Web of Science; May 8, 2021) without language restriction in the past five years. Reviews that consulted at least two databases, compared MIS with open orthopedic surgery, and reported the following: intraoperative, post-operative or total complications, function, ambulation, pain, hospital stay, reoperation rate and operation time were included. Article selection, quality assessment using AMSTAR-2, and data extraction were conducted in duplicate on predesigned forms. In each review, a subset analysis focusing on prospective cohort and randomized studies was additionally performed. PROSPERO: CRD42020178171. Results: The search yielded 531 articles from which 76 reviews consisting of 1104 primary studies were included. All reviews were assessed as being low quality. Compared to open surgery, MIS had fewer total, postoperative and intraoperative complications in 2/10, 2/11 and 2/5 reviews of spinal procedures respectively, 1/3, 1/4 and 1/2 reviews of upper limb procedures respectively, and 4/6, 2/7 and 0/2 reviews of lower limb procedures respectively. Conclusions: MIS had greater overall safety compared to open surgery in spinal procedures. In upper limb and lower limb procedures, MIS was not outright superior to open procedures in terms of safety hence a general preference of MIS is not justified on the premise of a better safety profile compared to open procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106616
JournalInternational Journal of Surgery
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Minimally invasive
  • Open surgery
  • Orthopedic
  • Percutaneous


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