Spinal surgery can occur anywhere along a person's vertebral column. The spinal areas included are cervical (neck), thoracic (upper back) or lumbar (lower back).

Spinal Surgery

Our physicians are highly trained in the diagnosis and treatment of the spine, which includes problems with the neck (cervical spine), mid-back (thoracic spine) and lower back (lumbar spine).

 

Back pain is extremely common.

 

Trauma, aging, improper body mechanics and normal wear and tear can all injure your spine. Damage to any part of your back or pressure on the nerves can cause back pain and other symptoms. When making a decision for or against a recommendation of surgery to the spine, neurosurgeons assess a variety of factors.

 

These factors include the length of time the patient has been experiencing pain, the location of the pain, and the presence of neurological signs (leg weakness, numbness and tingling, and problems controlling the bladder or bowels).

 

Surgery for the spine involves a variety of approaches and techniques.

 

Back surgery might be needed:

 

  • If you have a condition that compresses your spinal nerves, causing debilitating back pain or numbness along the back of your leg. In some instances when you have a bulging or ruptured (herniated) disks.

  • If you have broken bones (fractured vertebrae) or other damage to your spinal column from an injury that leaves your spine unstable.

  • If you have first tried conservative measures and they fail to relieve your back pain or other symptoms.

 

The following conditions may require surgery if they're progressive, painful or causing nerve compression:

 

  • Scoliosis - a curvature of the spine

  • Kyphosis - a humpback deformity

  • Spondylolisthesis - the forward slipping of a segment of the spine

  • Spinal Stenosis - Narrowing of the spinal canal typically from arthritis

  • Radiculopathy - the irritation and inflammation of a nerve caused by a herniated disk

  • Degenerative Disk Disease - the development of pain in a disk as a result of its normal wear and tear.

 

Evaluation of back and neck pain

 

  • MRI: An MRI is the best radiographic study for evaluation of continued back and neck pain. The MRI demonstrates disc, nerve and bone. It can also evaluate possible other causes of back and neck pain such as tumor or infection.

 

Types of back surgery:

 

To relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves, surgeons can remove portions of bone to widen the narrowed area in the bones of your spine (vertebrae). Removing the gel-like middle portion of a ruptured disk also may help relieve pressure on pinched nerves. Sometimes your doctor has to remove the entire disk and fuse together the adjoining vertebrae that remain.

 

  • Discectomy/Microdiscectomy - This involves removal of the herniated portion of a disk to relieve irritation and inflammation of a nerve. It's done as an open surgery and typically includes full or partial removal of the back portion of a vertebra (lamina) to access the ruptured disk.

  • Laminectomy - This procedure involves the removal of the bone overlying the spinal canal. It enlarges the spinal canal and is performed to relieve nerve pressure caused by spinal stenosis.

  • Fusion - Spinal fusion permanently connects two or more bones in your spine. It can relieve pain by adding stability to the spinal fracture. It is occasionally used to eliminate painful motion between vertebrae that can result from a degenerated or injured disk.

  • Artificial Disks - Implanted artificial disks are a treatment alternative to spinal fusion for painful movement between two vertebrae due to a degenerated or injured disk.

  • Vertebroplasty - During this procedure, your surgeon injects bone cement into compressed vertebrae. For fractured and compressed vertebrae, this procedure can help stabilize fractures and relieve pain. With a similar procedure, called kyphoplasty, a balloon-like device is inserted to attempt to expand compressed vertebrae before bone cement is injected.

What is minimally invasive surgery?
 

This is spinal surgery that is done with smaller incisions, less blood loss, less operative time, and less pain to the patient than a standard open operation. 

There are times when a minimally invasive operation is not appropriate for a patient, but it is important to have the opportunity to discuss all options available. 

Minimally invasive should never mean minimally effective.


The type of minimally invasive surgery varies depending on the goal of surgery, and should be compared to a standard open operation in terms of success rate and patient satisfaction.

 

Examples of minimally invasive surgery include percutaneous pedicle screw placement in the lumbar spine (Sextant pedicle screws), and a unilateral muscle splitting approach and transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion in the lumbar spine. 

There are also minimally invasive bone graft harvesting techniques that are often employed when your own bone is needed for fusion. In some cases, Infusions can be used to completely eliminate the need for harvesting your own bone. 

 

Southwest Neuroscience offers the latest techniques and always takes a holistic approach to care, providing the most comprehensive care with the goal of eliminating pain and enhancing your life.

 

​© 2019 Southwest Neuroscience & Spine Center

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Enhancing Life Through Advanced Care with Minimally Invasive Surgery