Cervical Spine Surgery
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What is Cervical Spine Surgery?
Your cervical spine is made up of the seven bones, called cervical vertebrae, stacked on top of each other in your neck area. The cervical disks are the cushions that lie between the cervical vertebrae and act as shock absorbers to allow your neck to move freely.
Your cervical spine also forms a protective tunnel for the upper part of your spinal cord to pass through. As your spinal cord passes through this tunnel, it sends out spinal nerves that pass through the openings between the cervical vertebrae. These spinal nerves supply your upper body with sensation and movement.
The goal of cervical spine surgery is to relieve pain, numbness, tingling and weakness, restore nerve function and stop or prevent abnormal motion in the spine. Your surgeon does this by removing a disc or a bone and fusing the vertebrae together with a bone graft either in front of or behind the spine. The bone graft may be one of two types: an autograft (bone taken from your body) or an allograft (bone from a bone bank). Sometimes metal plates, screws or wires are also used to further stabilize the spine. These techniques are called instrumentation. When the vertebrae have been surgically stabilized, abnormal motion is stopped and function is restored to the spinal nerves.
The most common symptoms of cervical spine herniation are numbness, stinging, weakness and significant pain in arms and hand. If all these conditions do not improve with physical therapy and medication, you will be recommended for Cervical Spine Surgery.
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Spine Disorders and Treatments
Spondylosis - Also known as Degenerative Disc Disease, Spondylosis is a gradual wear and tear of the disc of the vertebrae. It is a very common disorder affecting 40-50% of people in the age group of 40 and above. Most commonly, it occurs in the lumbar spine (lower back). Due to this deformity, the discs contract and lose their normal height. In very rare cases, DDD requires surgery. There are several non-surgical treatments such as anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. A prosthetic disc can be inserted in place of the spine at the level of the degenerated disc.
Slipped Disc - It is a condition wherein the inter and delicate part of the disc swell outward due to a weakness in the external surface of the disc. The symptoms that occur in this condition include back pain, pin pricks and aching in the arm or leg. There are two treatments for this disorder- Disc replacement and Keyhole surgery, also known as microdiscectomy spine surgery. It is performed when there is prolapsed disc in the lower back.
Spondylolisthesis - It is an anomalous condition wherein one vertebra bends down over another vertebra. In most cases, this forward slippage of the vertebra takes place in the lumbar area ( lower back) of the spine. Such kind of disc slippage creates pressure on the nerve roots linked with the diseased vertebrae, causing soreness and dysfunction. There are three types of Spondylolisthesis- Congenital, Isthmic and Degenerative.
Degenerative Disc Disease - It is a normal part of aging that often occurs along with spinal stenosis. Over time, stressors and minor injuries cause the spinal discs to gradually degenerate, shrinking the space between discs and causing instability and nerve compression. Conservative rehabilitation and pain management treatments are typically successful.
Scoliosis - The normal structure of a spine is a straight column from the front and normal curves from the sides. In certain situations, the front side of the spine shows curvatures and this condition is known as scoliosis. Due to this disease, the spine gets curved in the shape of “S” or “C”. The most common type of curvature is Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. The surgical treatment is recommended when the curvature is of greater size. It is done with the help of instrumentation which reduces the size of the malformation and getting fusion to avoid future curve.
Kyphosis - It is a condition in which the spine is abnormally curved, typically occurring during adolescence or the teen years (postural or Scheuermann’s kyphosis) or during formation in the womb (congenital kyphosis). Postural and Scheuermann’s kyphosis treatments are available at the Center, and typically respond well to physical therapy, anti-inflammatory treatment, and in severe cases, bracing.
Osteoporosis – It typically occurs in postmenopausal women and may contribute to painful vertebral fractures. Surgical procedures such as Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty are usually effective treatments. Physical therapy may also be beneficial to strengthen muscles, reduce pain and return the patient to their prior mobility level.
Spinal Tumor - Any kind of abnormal growth in the spine, whether cancerous or not, can intrude on nerves and cause pain, neurological disorders and paralysis as well. Its symptoms include muscle weakness, difficulty in walking and loss of bladder function. The treatment for this disorder is Total Spondylectomy, which is done to remove the entire vertebrae as a perfect curve.
Sciatica - It is a painful condition resulting from irritation of the sciatic nerve. The irritation is often caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve resulting from an abnormally tight piriformis muscle in the buttocks, slipped disc, degenerative disc disease, stenosis or a tumor. Treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and, in severe or persistent cases, surgical intervention.
Spinal Injuries - When there is a damage in the spinal cord due to a trauma or accident, loss of normal blood supply and contraction from tumor, it is known as a spinal cord. There are two types of spine injuries- complete or incomplete. While complete injuries stop functioning below the injury level, in incomplete injury, some functions remains below the injury level. The surgery is performed to stabilize the spine.
There is also a revision surgery which depends upon the type of problem a patient goes through. This procedure includes operation on both front and back part of the neck.
Procedures for Spine Surgery
There are two types of surgeries- Decompression and Stabilization. In decompression technique, the tissue intruding on the nerve structure is removed. It can be performed on both the front and back portion. The procedure includes Anterior Cervical Decompression, Posterior Cervical Decompression and Posterior Cervical Laminectomy. In the stabilization procedure, the treatment restricts movement between the vertebrae. Anterior Cervical Spinal Fusion Surgery and Anterior Cervical Corpectomy Spine Surgery are the two Decompression surgeries.
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