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Spine Surgery

Surgical corrections of the spine are performed to relieve pain in the back caused by a variety of issues.

Conditions that may be effectively addressed through spinal surgery include:

  • Degenerative disc disease. This condition occurs when the rubbery, shock-absorbing discs between the vertebrae in the spine begin to shrink as a result of aging, injury or overuse. If these discs completely collapse, the joints in the vertebrae may begin to scrape against one another, resulting in pain and stiffness.

  • Herniated disc. Also known as a bulged, ruptured or slipped disc, a herniated disc occurs when a piece of the nucleus of the disc pushes through the outer layer of the disc, known as the annulus. The fragment of the nucleus may move though a rupture or tear into the spinal canal, where it can press on spinal nerves and cause significant pain.

  • Low back pain. Pain in the low back may be caused by degenerative wearing down of the spine, injuries, overuse or repetitive motions. The pain may range in severity and can be ongoing or occur intermittently.

  • Spinal stenosis. This condition develops when a narrowing of the space around the spinal column occurs, putting pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves. As a result, numbness, pain and weakness in the legs may develop.

Types of Spine Surgery

Temple spine surgeons provide multidisciplinary comprehensive care for all disorders of the spine. They utilize the most advanced and minimally invasive procedures in the management of low back pain, herniated discs, spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease.

Kyphoplasty

To correct compression fractures in the spine, a surgeon threads a needle into the affected bone and sends a balloon through the needle. The balloon is then inflated to create height in the vertebrae, and cement is pumped into the area to prevent a future collapse.

Laminectomy

To perform this procedure, a spinal surgeon makes an incision in the back or the neck and removes the lamina, the portion of the bone that composes the vertebra in the spine. The surgeon may remove bone spurs, disc fragments or soft tissue to relieve the pressure and pain caused by spinal stenosis. The surgeon may also perform a foraminotomy to create space in the area where nerves exit the spine and a spinal fusion to stabilize the spinal column.

Microdiscectomy

During this procedure, a surgeon uses minimally invasive techniques to remove all or part of a herniated disc to alleviate pressure and reduce pain. To conduct the operation, a spinal surgeon makes a small incision in the skin covering the spine, moves the nerve root out of the way and and removes bone and ligament material to reach the disc that is compressing the nerve. The procedure usually takes one to two hours.

While microdiscectomy is usually outpatient surgery, some patients will stay in the hospital overnight. Pain is usually improved almost immediately after the surgery, and patients are encouraged to walk just a few hours after surgery.

Spinal Fusion

This surgery effectively “welds” two or more vertebrae together within the lumbar and cervical spine, allowing them to heal together to restore stability and relieve motion pain. Spinal fusion, which can take between two and eight hours, is usually performed for broken vertebrae, herniated discs, spinal weakness, spondylolisthesis or scoliosis. In addition to typical complications of surgery, such as bleeding and infection, spinal fusion risks include nerve damage.

Patients usually stay in the hospital for up to three days after spinal fusion. Pain is usually easily controlled, and the doctor may require that the patient wear a back brace or undergo physical therapy during the recovery process. Patients may experience improvement of pain within days, but it takes months for the spine to heal.

Spinal Decompression

Decompression refers to any of the procedures that can alleviate symptoms of compression on the spinal cord. Common surgeries include discectomy and laminotomy or laminectomy.

Spinal decompression surgery usually requires several days in the hospital. The benefits of these types of surgeries are in their success: Surgeries that repair nerve root pressure relieve pain in as many as 90 percent of patients.

Disc Replacement Surgery

Artificial disc replacement surgery removes the damaged cushioning material between the vertebrae and replaces it with an artificial disc made synthetic materials.

The risks for disc surgery include traditional surgery risks, but specific risks for disc replacement include potential damage to the nerves and spinal cord, stenosis due to spinal bone breakdown, and stiffness that develops within the spine.

Surgery usually takes two or three hours, and patients usually remain in the hospital for a few days. Recovery can take between a few weeks and a few months.

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