With advances in medicine that are made every year, spinal surgery is becoming much less of a risk to people with back pain. With minimally invasive techniques available, as well as non-surgical alternatives that are developing worldwide, the over 80% of Americans that suffer from some sort of back pain in their lives have relief on the horizon.
Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery
Today’s spinal surgeons have sophisticated tools at their disposal for diagnosing the condition causing a problem in the spine. CT scanners have developed to offer the best in visualization of the tissues, with three dimensional imaging possible, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) with contrast can show very accurate pictures of the spine and surrounding tissues to diagnose and treat back issues. With excellent diagnostic techniques, the surgeon has a much better canvas with which to work, so he or she doesn’t need to make major incisions to see it.
Arthroscopy is a well-used technique in minimally invasive spinal surgery. A tube, called an endoscope, is fed into an incision and into the tube is placed a tiny camera. In another incision or incisions are placed additional endoscopes where the tools to carry out the operation are inserted. The camera displays the inside of the patient’s back and the spinal surgery being conducted onto a screen for the surgeon to get an up close and enlarged view of the spinal cord, vertebrae and discs. Visit www.klikdokter.com
Spinal fusion utilizes arthroscopic procedures, and other techniques that are minimally invasive include kyphoplasty, arthroplasty, microdiscectomy and arthroplasty. This type of spinal surgery takes less time, is less painful to the patient and requires less hospitalization, and allows for quicker recovery.
Traditional Spinal Surgery
In traditional spine surgery, which may be necessary in extreme cases, surgeons must decide on which side of the body to approach the patient, from the front or the back. Anterior, front of the body surgery is preferable because maneuvering around the organs is easier, yet it’s not always possible. Some of the surgeries that many be conducted include a laminectomy that replaces chipped or broken bone, a foraminotomy that removes unnecessary tissue or bone, and a discectomy that removes all or part of the cushioning disc when it inflames the nerve to the point of unbearable pain.
A controversial non-surgical therapy was discussed recently in the February 2011 issue of The Spine Journal, a scientific journal of the North American Spine Society. The study showed that intradiscal steroid injections to bulging discs that are affecting the nerves along the lumbar, or lower back vertebrae can be effective. The success of the study was described as “intradiscal injection of corticosteroids could be a short term, efficient alternative for discogenic low back pain patients who were still unwilling to accept spinal surgery when conservative treatments failed.” There are still questions about the lifestyle and other distinguishing factors of the patients in the study, and it has not yet been FDA approved.
Spinal surgery is still to be taken lightly, but with improving techniques and procedures, it can be discussed with your spine doctor for consideration.