The Blog
September 13, 2019

Exploring the Types of Back Surgery: A Comprehensive Guide

Back pain is a pervasive ailment affecting countless individuals worldwide. A new study shows that back pain, specifically low back pain, remains the leading cause of disability globally. In cases where conservative treatments fail to provide relief, surgery becomes a viable option.

To ensure you make informed decisions about your treatment, it is essential to understand the most common back surgery procedures available. This article delves into the most common procedures we perform at Royal Spine Surgery, a renowned institution specializing in minimally invasive spine surgeries.

To learn more about available treatment options for back and spinal conditions, contact Royal Spine Surgery in Scottsdale, AZ.

The Most Common Back Surgery Types

Back and spine surgery encompasses various procedures designed to address specific conditions and improve the overall well-being of individuals suffering from back and spine issues. However, like any other medical procedure, undergoing back or spine surgery is a huge commitment, and many people are overwhelmed by the thought of undergoing such an invasive procedure.

Fortunately, the different types of back surgeries fall into a few categories, which doctors perform regularly with positive results. While the specifics of each procedure may vary, their common goal is to alleviate pain, restore spinal stability, and improve overall quality of life. Understanding these common procedures can provide individuals seeking relief from debilitating back conditions insights into the treatment options available to them.

Laminectomy

Laminectomy is a procedure for alleviating pressure on the spinal nerves by removing a section of the vertebral bone known as the lamina. This spinal decompression surgery is commonly employed to treat spinal stenosis, herniated discs, and other ailments causing nerve compression.

The affected spine area is exposed during a laminectomy, and bone and ligament fragments exerting pressure is removed. Any bone spurs in the area are also taken out. However, if a significant amount of bone needs to be removed, it may destabilize the spine, necessitating further treatment.

Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion surgery aims to stabilize the spine by fusing two or more vertebrae, which is often necessary when the vertebrae grind against each other, or movement leads to nerve pinching. It is often recommended for spinal instability, degenerative disc disease, and spinal fractures.

This procedure employs bone grafts or implants to facilitate bone growth between the vertebrae, reducing pain and enhancing spinal stability. Screws are inserted into the affected vertebrae, along with guide cables. When tightened, the vertebrae are pulled into the correct position and immobilized. Bone grafts or special cements are then used to fuse the vertebrae together, preventing movement.

Spinal fusion is typically performed in small groups of vertebrae, allowing for flexibility and minimal restrictions. If spinal fusion is needed after a laminectomy, both procedures are often done together.

Discectomy

The spinal disc acts as a soft cushion between the vertebrae, enabling movement without grinding and providing a safe passage for the spinal cord. In certain injuries, a disc may slip out of place, causing it to bulge and exert pressure on the nerves. Discectomy is typically suggested for patients experiencing severe symptoms due to disk herniation, including radiating pain, weakness, or numbness.

Discectomy is a type of spine surgery that involves the removal of the entire or damaged portion of a herniated disc. The procedure aims to remove all or part of the affected disc to alleviate compression of the nerves and reduce pain. Sometimes, the surgeon may opt for disc replacement using an artificial disc, which preserves flexibility by filling the space between the vertebrae.

Microdiscectomy

Microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive surgery for treating herniated spine discs, which aims to ease the pain caused by pressure on the nerves due to a herniated or bulging disc. This procedure is considered less invasive than traditional types of spinal surgery and involves using specialized instruments and a microscope.

During a microdiscectomy, the surgeon makes a small incision on the patient’s back and uses a microscope to magnify the area of the spine where the herniated disc is located. Instead of cutting the surrounding muscles, they are gently moved aside to minimize damage to the surrounding tissues. The spine surgeon removes only the damaged or protruding part of the disc to preserve as much healthy disc material as possible.

Several other surgical methods are used to treat back and spinal issues, but the ones mentioned above are the most common procedures for patients today. New technology is making it possible to perform these procedures with minimal invasiveness. However, any surgical procedure done on the spine is a major procedure that requires great care.

Royal Spine Surgery in Scottsdale, AZ specializes in performing minimally invasive techniques to address and alleviate back pain. These advanced techniques result in smaller incisions, minimal tissue disruption, and faster recovery periods compared to traditional open surgeries.

Signs You Need Back or Spine Surgery

While surgery can provide effective relief, it may not be for everyone. Certain signs suggest the need for surgical intervention:

  • Persistent pain: If conservative treatments like physical therapy or medication fail to alleviate ongoing pain in the upper, mid, or lower back, surgical intervention may be necessary.
  • Progressive weakness or numbness: The development of progressive weakness or numbness in the legs or arms can indicate nerve compression or damage. It is crucial to have this symptom evaluated by a qualified spine specialist.
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control: Any loss of control over bowel or bladder function requires immediate medical attention. It could be an indication of cauda equina syndrome, a rare but potentially severe lumbar spine condition that may necessitate urgent surgical intervention.
  • Severe functional limitations: If back pain significantly hampers daily activities and restricts the ability to perform essential tasks, surgical options should be explored. Factors such as difficulties in carrying out routine activities or experiencing a decline should be considered when deciding whether or not to undergo surgery for issues concerning the back and spine.

If you notice any of these, get in touch with our qualified spine specialist as soon as possible. We can help you thoroughly evaluate your condition, considering your symptoms, medical history, and diagnostic tests to determine the appropriate course of action for your situation. Remember, an accurate diagnosis and personalized medical advice are vital for making informed decisions about your back health.

Cost of Back Surgery

The cost of back or spinal surgery is influenced by various factors, including:

  • Type of procedure
  • Hospital or surgical facility fees
  • Surgeon's fees
  • Anesthesia and medical staff charges
  • Pre-operative and post-operative care
  • Insurance coverage

Note that complex procedures involving extensive surgical intervention, such as spinal fusion or disc replacement, tend to be more expensive than less invasive procedures like microdiscectomy or foraminotomy. The complexity and duration of the surgery, as well as the equipment and resources required, can also impact the overall cost.

Awareness of these financial considerations is essential for making informed decisions and planning ahead. But remember, prioritizing your health and well-being is paramount, and financial considerations should not be the sole determining factor when choosing a treatment option.

It is advisable to consult with your surgeon, insurance provider, and financial advisor to assess the potential costs and explore available options for managing the expenses. You may also contact us at Royal Spine Surgery for accurate cost estimates tailored to your unique situation.

Potential Risks and Complications

Like any surgical procedure, back surgery carries certain risks, such as infection, bleeding, nerve damage, or adverse reactions to anesthesia. However, these risks are generally low, and your surgeon will take appropriate measures to minimize them.

Healing and Recovery Time

The recovery from back and spine surgery varies depending on the procedure type and the general health of the patient. Typically, patients can expect a recovery period lasting several weeks to months. However, minimally invasive procedures, like microtube spine surgery, often result in shorter healing times than traditional open spine surgeries.

It is essential to follow the post-operative instructions provided by your surgeon and engage in any recommended physical therapy or rehabilitation to optimize your recovery.

Don't Let Back Pain Hold You Back from Living Your Best Life

Back and spine surgeries can provide much-needed relief for individuals suffering from various causes of back pain. However, it should always be approached with careful consideration and after exploring conservative methods. Learning about these common types of surgery and their indications can help you make informed decisions about your treatment options.

At Royal Spine Surgery, our expertise lies in performing minimally invasive spine surgeries to address various back conditions. If you are experiencing chronic back pain that significantly affects your daily activities and have not responded to conservative treatments, consult our team of specialists to explore the best approach for your condition.

Learn more about how our specialized treatments can help you find relief from back pain. Schedule your consultation today!

Dr. Abdulhamid

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Abdulhamid

Dr. Abdulhamid is a highly skilled and experienced board-certified neurosurgeon with a passion for providing exceptional spine care. He specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery and has a reputation for achieving outstanding results for his patients. His commitment to excellence and patient-centered approach have earned him the trust and respect of his patients and colleagues alike.

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