People often come to Metro Health looking for pain relief in their back, neck, arms or legs. Our spine specialists diagnose and treat patients with these types of complaints.
The primary purpose of back or neck surgery is to correct a visible physical structure within individuals who fail to show improvement with conservative (non-surgical) treatment. Surgery is not an appropriate option for patients when there is no physical structure accounting for their pain identified.
Surgery is only useful to change a patient’s anatomy (e.g. remove a disc herniation). There is almost never any reason to consider exploratory surgery to “look” for a cause of pain.
Spine surgery can basically accomplish three tasks:
1. Relieve pressure on the nerve root or spinal cord.
2. Stabilize an unstable or painful segment of the spine.
3. To change the shape of a deformity.
However, failing non-surgical treatments (such as physical therapy or injections) is not always an indication that surgery will be effective either. Remember, there must always be an identifiable structure for the surgeon to “fix.”
In recent years, modern spine surgery has made major advancements in both technique and spinal instrumentation/implants. The most significant advancment in spine surgery has been improved pre-surgical imaging techniques, which have greatly improved the ability of surgeons to accurately and correctly identify the lesion causing pain or decline in function. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan) has revolutionized back surgery and neck surgery. MRIs are essential to best identify the physical structure responsible for the patient’s problem. Another recent advancement is the use of minimally invasive surgical procedures, which allow our neurosurgeons to provide safer and more accurate spine surgeries.
The most important factor in the determination of the success in spine surgery is a proper diagnosis. Without an accurate pre-surgical diagnosis, even the most technically successful surgery has little chance for a successful outcome.
Spine surgery is typically an “elective” procedure, meaning that there is time for the patient to mentally and physically prepare for the procedure through education and to plan ahead for the recovery phase. Only in rare intances, such as for patients who have a progressive neurological loss of function or sudden onset of bowel or bladder incontinence, is spinal surgery actually necessary on an emergency basis.
Patients who require inpatient hospitalization following spine surgery receive care from our specialty trained nurses and therapists who safely and efficiently guide them through the recuperation process. Some surgeries may require an overnight stay and others may require a longer recovery period of a few days in the hospital. Several surgical procedures can be performed as an outpatient procedure and patients go home to recuperate the same day.