Having back surgery is a big commitment, and many people are overwhelmed by the thought of undergoing such an invasive procedure. Fortunately, most back surgeries fall into three main categories, which doctors perform regularly with positive results. Here’s a look at three of the most common back surgery types so you’ll know what to expect.
Laminectomy is an invasive surgery that is done to treat a condition called spinal stenosis. This occurs when your spine has compressed and put pressure on your nerves, causing pain. The process of laminectomy requires exposing the affected area of the spine and removing bits of bone and ligaments that could be causing the pressure. This also involves removing any bone spurs that may have grown in the area. Unfortunately, if the laminectomy requires significant bone removal, it is possible that your spine will be destabilized, requiring further treatment in the form of a spinal fusion.
Spinal fusion is used in cases where the spine needs to be strengthened or stabilized to prevent unwanted movement. This is often the case if the vertebrae are grinding against one another or if movement causes pinching of nerves. In this process, a series of screws are inserted into the affected vertebrae, along with a couple of guide cables. As they are tightened, the vertebrae are pulled into position and held steady. Then, bone grafts or special cements will be used to fuse the vertebrae into position so that they cannot move against one another. This process is typically done in small groups, ensuring that you are still able to bend and move flexibly with few limitations. If spinal fusion is required after laminectomy, your doctor will likely perform both procedures together.
The third of the common back surgery types is discectomy. The spinal disc is a soft pad that provides cushioning between your vertebrae. It allows your vertebrae to move without grinding, while also providing a channel for your spinal cord to pass safely through. With some spinal injuries, a disc may slide out of place from between two vertebrae, causing it to bulge and pull on the spinal cord. Depending on the severity of the injury, this surgery may be done through a large incision or with the help of microscopic equipment, limiting the size of the incision and your recovery time. A discectomy requires removing all or part of the affected disc. Your doctor may choose to perform a disc replacement using an artificial disc, which will fill the space between the vertebrae and preserve your flexibility.
While there are several other back surgery types in use today, these three 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. To learn more about back surgery types and treatment options today, contact Royal Spine.