Thoracic Spine Procedures
The thoracic spine is the section of spine found in the upper back. It is in between the cervical and lumbar spines, and stretches from the base of the neck to the bottom of the rib cage. The thoracic spine consists of 12 vertebrae, referred to as T1-T12. Each of these vertebrae are separated by an intervertebral disc, which connect the bones and allow for movement of the spine. The discs in the thoracic spine are thinner than those in the other parts of the spine, resulting in less movement of the upper back. However, the thoracic area is still sensitive to injury and disease. We are experienced in treating every condition of the spine, from the minor to the severe.
Here are some of the thoracic spine conditions that we treat:
Kyphosis is an exaggeration of the normal curve of the thoracic spine. While the spine has a natural S-shaped curve, it can bend in any direction as a result of spinal disorders. Kyphosis causes the appearance of a hump or hunched back and severe pressure in the lungs and abdomen. This disorder is most often caused by osteoporosis but may also be the result of a birth defect or injury. Kyphosis can be treated with medication, support braces or surgery.
Unlike herniated discs in other areas of the spine, a thoracic herniated disc usually produces no symptoms. They are usually diagnosed by chance if an MRI is performed for something else. Most thoracic disc herniations occur in the lower half of the area, since the upper half has very limited mobility. Most herniated discs are the result of natural disc degeneration, but can also be the result of trauma. Although symptoms are rare, they often include pain radiating as a band around the chest. Treatment for a thoracic herniated disc includes immobilization of the back, medication, or surgery.
Spinal cord injuries frequently occur as a result of a fall or motor vehicle accident. Most thoracic spine injuries affect the lower part of the area at the thoracolumbar junction. The injuries often result in a compression fracture. An ultrasound, MRI or radiograph can determine the exact source of the pain and which treatment method is best. Treatment can include medication, physical therapy and lifestyle changes to prevent long-term damage.
Thoracic Vertebral Tumor
Spinal cord tumors are similar to any other type of tumor. Its cause is unknown but can occur as a primary tumor or as a result of the spread of cancer from another area. Thoracic vertebral tumors can cause upper back pain, loss of sensation, muscle weakness and spasms. Like other tumors, these must be treated quickly and effectively so they do not spread to other areas. Corticosteroids can help relieve symptoms but surgery, radiation or chemotherapy may be necessary to remove the tumor.
We perform the following thoracic spine procedures:
In the past, thoracic discectomy, which is the surgical removal of the herniated portion of a disc, was an invasive and tricky procedure because of the location of the discs and all the surrounding organs. But now this surgery can be performed with the help of an endoscope and an X-ray that allow for the surgery to be carefully executed through tiny incisions. The removal of the herniated disc portion relieves pressure on the nerve roots and reduces pain.
A thoracic laminectomy removes the small section of bone that covers the spinal cord, known as the lamina. Removal of this bone relieves pressure on the surrounding nerves as a result of spinal stenosis or disc degeneration. A fusion procedure can be performed with this surgery to join the remaining bones together.
We also provide surgical treatment for the excision and reconstruction of vertebral tumors and thoracic trauma, depending on the type and severity of the condition. Our doctors are specially trained in treating all thoracic spine conditions with care and precision.
For more information, please call Northwest Spine & Pain Surgical Center at 503-694-8600.