Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery removes an intervertebral disc and/or bone spurs that are putting pressure on nerve roots. This condition is a result of a herniated or degenerated disc and is known as nerve root compression. Nerve root compression can lead to pain in the neck and arms, lack of coordination, and numbness in the arms.
The removed disc may be replaced with a small bone graft which will allow the vertebrae to fuse together over time. The space may also be left open, or a metal plate may be inserted to stabilize the spine while it heals. As the name describes, this procedures is done through the front, or anterior, of the body. An incision is made in the front of the neck, to one side and the disc is removed. Removing the herniated disc relieves the pressure placed on the nerve root and therefore relieves the symptoms as well.
A laminectomy is a surgical procedure designed to relieve the pressure and pain caused by spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on the nerves and causes pain throughout the spine and extremities. It can develop as a result of bone spurs, osteoarthritis or even just from aging. In this procedure, a small section of bone that covers the back of the spinal cord, called the lamina, is removed to relieve the compression. It is most commonly performed on the vertebrae in either the neck or the lower back.
The cervical spine (neck region) is one of the most important and agile parts of your body. It begins at the base of the skull and consists of eight pairs of spinal nerves and seven bones separated by intervertebral discs that allow the spine to move freely. The neck has the greatest amount of movement of any area of the spine and also protects the spinal cord and supports the skull. Because of its vital function in our everyday lives, injury or disease of the cervical spine is a very serious condition.
A laminectomy of the cervical spine is performed through the back of the spine under general anesthesia. Part or all of the lamina bones may be removed on both sides of the spine, along with the spinous process, which are projections from the back of the vertebrae. The removal of the lamina, thickened ligament, and any bone spurs relieves the pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.
If one of the vertebrae has moved over another or if there is curvature of the spine, spinal fusion may be needed for stability along with the laminectomy. The remaining spine bones can be connected by fusing vertebrae together using bone grafts or titanium metal rods with screws attached to bones on each side. The procedure can also be done without fusion.
After a laminectomy, you will most likely remain in the hospital for a short stay. Soon afterward, most patients begin a regimen of physical therapy. You will be restricted from activities that require bending and lifting for several weeks after the procedure. Generally, most people can return to work in four to eight weeks after surgery.
Laminectomy With Foraminotomy
At times, spinal stenosis is accompanied by foraminal stenosis. This condition is caused by a narrowing of the foramen, the opening within each of the spinal bones that allows nerve roots to pass through. When that is the case, a foraminotomy will be performed along with the laminectomy. Foraminotomy is a surgical procedure used to expand the opening in the spinal column where the nerve roots exit the spinal canal, with the goal of relieving the pressure that results from foraminal stenosis. Both of the procedures may be combined with spinal fusion surgery to provide greater stability to the affected area of the spine.
Due to aging or other musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis, the foramen may gradually become clogged and develop bone spurs that press on the nerves and cause pain, numbness, stiffness and weakness. Herniated discs and thickened ligaments and joints may also be the cause of the narrowing of the foramen.
After a laminectomy with foraminotomy, you will most likely remain in the hospital for a short stay. Soon afterward, most patients begin a regimen of physical therapy. You will be restricted from activities that require bending and lifting for several weeks after the procedure. Generally, most people can return to work in four to eight weeks after surgery. The full recovery time is typically between two and three months.
Posterior Cervical Discectomy
The cervical spine (neck region) is one of the most important and agile parts of your body. It begins at the base of the skull and consists of seven bones separated by intervertebral discs that allow the spine to move freely. The neck has the greatest amount of movement of any area of the spine and is also responsible for protecting the spinal cord and supporting the skull. Because of its vital function in our everyday lives, injury or disease of the cervical spine is a very serious condition.
Posterior cervical decompression and fusion surgery removes the lamina, thickened ligament, and/or bone spurs that are putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. This compression is a result of a herniated or degenerated disc, spinal stenosis, and/or spinal instability. Nerve compression can lead to pain in the neck and arms, lack of coordination, and numbness or weakness in the arms.
As the name describes, this procedure is done through the back, or posterior, of the body. An incision is made in the midline of the back of the neck, the muscles are dissected and retracted, and the compression is removed. After the decompression of the nerves and spinal cord, the spine then needs to be stabilized by screws and rods to allow the bones to fuse together.
After surgery, a hospital stay is usually required. Complete recovery time may take between eight and twelve weeks. Although complications are rare, any surgical procedure carries risks. Possible risks include infection, bleeding, reactions to anesthesia, injury to the spinal cord, pain at the treated site, damage to nerves or arteries, blood clots and paralysis. These risks can be minimized by choosing an experienced surgeon to perform your procedure, and by adhering to your surgeon’s instructions before and after your procedure.
For more information, please call Northwest Spine & Pain Surgical Center at 503-694-8600.