Surgery

When non-invasive treatments are not effective to resolve the pain you are experiencing, surgery may be recommended.

Choosing the spine surgeons at St. Vincent Healthcare means you will work with experts who have unparalleled knowledge and experience in spine surgery techniques and who utilize the latest and best technologies.

In fact, the spine surgeons at St. Vincent Healthcare are leaders in developing and testing cutting-edge procedures that effectively relieve pain and other symptoms while speeding recovery. This includes the use of minimally invasive procedures as well as traditional “open” surgeries.

Cervical Surgery
The top of your spine is made up of seven small vertebrae, separated by discs, which support your head and allow your neck to twist, bend and stretch. Damage to your cervical spine due to injury, illness or long-term wear-and-tear may cause pain or stiffness, and ultimately may require surgery.

The type of procedure your neurosurgeon may recommend will depend on the type of pain you're experiencing and its underlying cause, your post-surgery goals and your overall health.

Click on the topics below for more information on Cervical and Lumbar Surgeries.

Cervical Discectomy

When the cervical disc herniates, the pressure placed on the cervical spine can cause pain and discomfort. If medication or physical therapies are unsuccessful at relieving symptoms, your neurologist may recommend that you undergo a discectomy, during which the damaged disc is removed. A laminectomy, or removal of any bone spurs which may have formed on the surrounding vertebrae, may also be performed during this procedure.

By removing the pressure on your spine, a cervical discectomy may provide long-term neck pain relief. Depending on your symptoms and their underlying cause, your spine surgeon may also suggest an artificial disc replacement or cervical spinal fusion in conjunction with the discectomy.

Cervical Spinal Fusion

A cervical fusion limits the movement of the cervical vertebrae by permanently joining them together using a bone graft or metal rods, screws and/or plates.

Artifical Disc Replacement

When the cause of your back pain is diagnosed as being caused by the degeneration of the discs in your lumbar spine, your surgeon may recommend artificial disc replacement instead of lumbar fusion. In this procedure, the damaged disc is carefully removed from between two vertebrae and an artificial one put in its place.

Lumbar Discectomy

A lumbar discectomy may be performed when you experience symptoms resulting from additional pressure placed on your spine due to the herniation of one or more lumbar discs. During this procedure, an opening is made in your spine to access the damaged disc. The disc, or portions of it, will then be removed.

The goal of any discectomy is to relieve spinal pressure and reduce the symptoms of disc herniation, such as leg pain, muscle weakness or numbness. Depending on your situation, your surgeon may also perform a laminectomy, laminotomy or lumbar fusion in conjunction with the discectomy to allow you to more easily complete daily tasks and enjoy a more active lifestyle.

Intraspinous Process Decompression

Also referred to as IPD, intraspinous process decompression is a new, minimally invasive procedure designed to relieve the back pain and leg numbness for patients diagnosed with spinal stenosis. It is an alternative to spinal fusion or laminectomy.

During this procedure, you may be placed under general anesthesia or you may be given a combination of sedative and local anesthesia. Your neurosurgeon will make a small incision in your back to gain access to the rear of your spine. Using a tool called a sizing distractor, he or she will create a space between the spinous processes - the knobby bones you can feel when you run your hands down your spine. A permanent implant is then inserted to maintain the larger space and relieve pressure.

Most patients are able to return home within 24 hours after undergoing IPD. Your surgeon may recommend physical therapy following surgery to help you regain strength and mobility.

Laminectomy

If you have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, your surgeon may suggest that you undergo a laminectomy. During this procedure, the lamina (part of the bone that makes up a vertebrae) and/or bone spurs which may have developed along your spine are carefully removed to make additional room for your spinal column. A foraminotomy or lumbar discectomy may be completed at the same time to relieve any additional pressure placed on spinal nerves.

Lumbar Fusion

Patients who have chronic low back pain who are unable to alleviate pain through the use of medication or physical therapy may be candidates for lumbar fusion. This type of surgery permanently fuses, or joins, two or more spinal vertebrae together to restrict movement using bone grafts or metal rods or plates.

Lumbar fusion is most commonly utilized for individuals who have had injuries to the bones in the spine or whose spine has become weakened over time. If you feel that lumbar fusion may be right for you, ask your surgeon for additional information.