Spine Surgery Procedures

Back Surgery Information

Spine Surgery Procedures

There are several spine surgery procedures that can be carried out. However, back surgery is usually considered a last resort when other non-invasive treatment methods have failed to resolve the back pain.

Back pain, also known as dorsalgia, can be caused by a number of different factors. The causes of back pain include herniated discs, disc degeneration (spinal stenosis), tumors in the back, fibromyalgia, ruptured disc, bone fractures and spondylosis. Back pain can also be caused by poor posture, lifting heavy objects, strenuous physical exercises done poorly, bad lifting technique, sedentary lifestyle and excessive weight gain.

Spine surgery procedures recommended will depend on the underlying cause of the back pain. The procedure may involve removing portions of the spinal discs or fusing discs. The most common spine surgery procedures carried out are:

Spinal/lumbar Laminectomy – This is one of the most used spine surgery procedures done to relieve lower back pain. It is also referred to as open spinal decompression. During the procedure, the surgeon removes the lamina (which is the bone that overlies the spinal canal). This is done to enlarge the spinal canal so that the pressure on the nerve root and spinal cord are lessened. The space created is also good for the patient as it allows the nerve root room to heal. This procedure is usually carried out on patients whose back pain is caused by spinal stenosis.

Discectomy – This back surgery also involves the removal of a portion of the herniated disc. It is therefore a decompression procedure. The discectomy can be carried out as an open surgery or as a minimally invasive surgery. The minimally invasive version of a discectomy is called an endoscopic disectomy or microdiscectomy or microdecompression surgery. These types of spine surgery procedures are very often used for herniated lumbar discs.

Spinal fusion – This procedure is done to join 2 or more vertebrae in the spine. This is done to stabilize them so that any motion between the vertebrae is stopped. The movement is usually the cause of the pain. This procedure can be carried out for injured spinal vertebrae, slipped discs, spinal scoliosis or kyphosis (the two result in abnormal curvature of the spine) and for a weak spine caused by infection or tumors. A vertebroblasty is a type of spinal fusion surgery in which a special bone cement usually made of acrylic is used to stabilize the vertebrae.

Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy (IDET) – This is treatment for back pain that is referred to as discogenic back pain. This is the pain that is not caused by a herniated disc but rather the degeneration of the discs. During the intradiscal electrothermal therapy, the surgeon will insert a probe that is used to heat the tissues in the disc that is causing the pain.

Other spine surgery procedures are cordotomy, rhizotomy and dorsal root entry zone operation (DREZ). This group of procedures involve severing or surgically destroying the nerve roots causing the pain.