In the majority of patients with back pain, spine surgery is only considered after conservative therapy options are no longer appropriate. Surgery is also recommended if the condition is causing neurological damage or unrelenting severe pain.
Minimally invasive approaches are used whenever appropriate. Research shows that minimally invasive procedures, which are performed through smaller incisions, result in smaller scars, less pain, and allow for fewer days in the hospital and a faster recovery than traditional surgery methods.
Every step is taken to promote a comfortable patient experience. This includes the use of pain medications just prior to surgery and the use of long-acting local anesthetics after surgery with a focus on minimizing the use of narcotic-based medications that can have adverse effects.
Our surgeons are committed to providing the least invasive surgical technique that will allow for the most positive patient outcome. Our surgical expertise encompasses the following procedures:
Cervical spine surgery is performed at the neck or top of the spine to treat nerve and spinal cord impingement (decompression surgery) and spinal instability (fusion surgery). The two procedures are often combined as decompression may destabilize the spine and create the need for a fusion to add stability. Spinal instrumentation, such as a small plate, can also be used to add stability to the spine.
A discectomy is surgery to remove the damaged portion of a herniated disc in the spine. A herniated disc can irritate or compress nearby nerves that cause pain, numbness, and weakness. This procedure is frequently performed endoscopically or as a microdiscectomy, which are minimally invasive alternatives to the traditional discectomy.
A foraminotomy is the surgical removal of small pieces of bone around the foramina, which is a narrow passageway on both sides of the vertebrae that allow the nerve roots to travel from the spinal cord to other areas of the body. The procedure, which usually accompanies a laminectomy, provides more room for the compressed spinal nerve.
Kyphoplasty is a surgical procedure designed to stop pain cause by a spinal fracture due to osteoporosis, to stabilize the bone, and to restore some of all of the lost vertebral body height due to the compression fracture. A small incision is made over the affected area and the surgeon inserts a narrow tube into one side of the fractured vertebra. A balloon is then inserted through the tube and once inside the vertebra it is inflated to open the cavity. The balloon is then removed, and the cavity is filled with a cement-like material that quickly hardens and stabilizes the bone.
Laminectomy, a surgical procedure often performed to treat spinal stenosis, creates space by removing the lamina, part of the bone that forms the vertebral arch in the spine. During the procedure, the surgeon removes the lamina and will also remove any bone spurs. These structures can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots.
In lumbar disc surgery, herniated disc material in the lower back that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord is removed. A fusion may be done at the same time to help stabilize the spine.
Artificial disc replacement is a newer surgical procedure for relieving low back pain. Similar to hip or knee joint replacements, a disc replacement substitutes a mechanical device for an intervertebral disc in the spine to restore motion to the spine by replacing the worn, degenerated disc.
Spinal fusion, which is frequently used to correct severe scoliosis, involves removal of the abnormal vertebra and replacement of vertebrae with bone grafts. Two or more vertebrae are fused together with the help of bone grafts and internal fixators, such as metal rods, wires, hooks, or screws, are used to form one single bone. These internal fixators help to stabilize the fusion and partially help to straighten the spine. Stopping the motion at a painful vertebral segment decreases pain generated from the joint.
To help ensure optimal outcomes, patients scheduled for spine surgery will undergo a comprehensive preoperative education program, which includes:
- A nurse practitioner, who will explain the progression of a patient’s hospitalization from admission to discharge
- A case coordinator, who will be assigned to help patients plan for discharge
- A physical therapist, who will explain the course of therapy during hospitalization and identify equipment patients will need during recovery at home
- An occupational therapist, who will teach patients how to use adaptive equipment, which will assist them with activities of daily living
If you have spinal surgery, our board-certified pain management physicians and nurse practitioners work hand-in-hand with your surgical, anesthesiology, nursing, and rehabilitation teams to ensure that pain is optimally controlled during recovery. Our multidisciplinary team is trained in the most advanced strategies in pain management, including ultrasound-guided nerve blocks and a balanced regimen of both opioid and non-opioid medications. We also embrace and offer integrative medicine services, through the Graf Center for Integrative Medicine at Englewood Health, to help reduce pain and facilitate recovery, including guided imagery, breathing and relaxation techniques, medically supervised acupuncture, and massage therapy.
Englewood Health is an internationally renowned center for patients and institutions seeking expertise in surgery without the use of blood transfusions. The vast majority all elective surgery performed at Englewood Hospital – including spine surgery – is performed without blood transfusions or the use of blood products. Studies indicate a direct link between bloodless surgery, shorter hospital stay, faster healing, and a lowered chance of transfusion-associated infection or disease. This makes surgery possible for many who cannot or do not want a blood transfusion. Learn more about our Institute for Patient Blood Management & Bloodless Medicine and Surgery.