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Prospective questionnaire.To describe patient perceptions of minimally invasive spine (MIS) versus open surgery, and to determine which factors are most heavily considered by the patient when choosing between approaches.MIS surgery has increased in popularity due to proposed advantages in the perioperative and immediate postoperative periods. However, patient preferences and understanding with regard to the differences between MIS and open surgery have not been elucidated.An anonymous questionnaire consisting of 30 questions was administered to patients scheduled to see either an MIS surgeon or an open spine surgeon for a clinical evaluation from 2016 to 2017. Six questions asked about patient demographics and medical history. Nine questions asked respondents to rate the importance of several criteria when deciding between MIS and open surgery. In total, 15 multiple choice and free response questions asked respondents about their perceptions of MIS versus open surgery with regard to surgical and physician characteristics.In total, 326 patients completed the survey. The 3 most important criteria for patients when choosing between open and MIS surgery were: long-term outcomes, surgeon’s recommendation, and complication risk. When compared with MIS surgery, the majority of patients perceived open surgery to be more painful (83.8%), have increased complication risk (78.5%), have increased recovery time (89.3%), have increased costs (68.1%), and require heavier sedation (62.6%). If required to have spine surgery in the future, the majority of both patient groups would prefer a minimally invasive approach (80.0%).Long-term outcomes, surgeon’s recommendation, and complication risk were the most important criteria identified by patients when choosing between open and MIS surgery. Patients also perceived MIS surgery to have advantages over open surgery with regard to postoperative pain, complication risk, recovery time, cost, and anesthesia requirement. Most patients seem to prefer a minimally invasive approach to their treatment.