Spinal disease is an important cause of cervical discomfort, low back pain, radiating pain in the limbs, and neurogenic intermittent claudication, and its incidence is increasing annually. From the etiological viewpoint, these symptoms are directly caused by the compression of the spinal cord, nerve roots, and blood vessels and are most effectively treated with surgery. Spinal surgeries are primarily performed using two different techniques: spinal canal decompression and internal fixation. In the past, tactile sensation was the primary method used by surgeons to understand the state of the tissue within the operating area. However, this method has several disadvantages because of its subjectivity. Therefore, it has become the focus of spinal surgery research so as to strengthen the objectivity of tissue state recognition, improve the accuracy of safe area location, and avoid surgical injury to tissues. Aside from traditional imaging methods, surgical sensing techniques based on force, bioelectrical impedance, and other methods have been gradually developed and tested in the clinical setting. This article reviews the progress of different tissue state recognition methods in spinal surgery and summarizes their advantages and disadvantages.