Laminectomy for Spinal Stenosis
A laminectomy relieves nerve 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 or 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.
A laminectomy is performed through the back of the spine under general anesthesia. The removal of the lamina and any bone spurs relieves the pressure on the spinal cord. The procedure may be done without fusion, or it can be performed in conjunction with a spinal fusion. A less invasive surgical option known as an interspinous process distraction device is also available to treat some forms of spinal stenosis. Your doctor will decide if this option is right for you.
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Treatment of Fracture
Like any other bone in your body, the bones of the spine, called vertebrae, can fracture. These fractures are usually a result of osteoporosis, pressure on the spine, metastatic diseases, a fall or other type of injury. A spinal fracture is called a vertebral compression fracture and occurs most often in the thoracic or middle spine.
Compression fractures can cause mild to severe pain depending on how they occur. Treatment usually includes pain medication, rest and bracing. Medication simply relieves the pain but bracing will restrict movement, relieve pressure and allow the fracture to heal. Surgery may be required for more severe fractures, and a minimally invasive surgical option is now available to treat compression fractures that result in severe back pain. Taking measures to prevent compression fractures is the most effective treatment.
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Spinal Tumor Resection
Spinal tumors are similar to any other type of tumor. Their cause is unknown but they can occur as a primary tumor or as a result of the spread of cancer from another area. Spinal tumors can cause 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.
Complete tumor resection is usually most effective in treating spinal tumors. Many spinal tumors are easy to remove because they do not form on the actual spinal cord. Others may be harder to remove because they cannot be distinguished from normal spinal tissue. Successful resection can relieve pain and significantly benefit the patient. These procedures may be followed by radiation therapy to ensure complete removal of the tumor.
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Release of Tethered Spinal Cord
The spinal cord can sometimes become tethered to an immobile part of the lower spine, causing restricted movement and a pulled or stretched spinal cord, which can lead to neurological deterioration. A tethered spinal cord can cause pain in the lower back or legs, weakness in the legs or feet, loss of sensation, incontinence and scoliosis. Many patients with a tethered spinal cord have a mark or discoloration on their lower back called a cutaneous marker.
A tethered spinal cord does not often respond to medication and more effective methods are needed. Surgeons typically use a magnifying device for a more detailed view of the area. Unfortunately, the healing process for this procedure often causes the spinal cord to become tethered once again. Talk to your doctor about the risk of this procedure and if it is right for you.
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Closure of Spina Bifida
Spina bifida, meaning cleft spine, is a disease characterized by incomplete development of the brain, spinal cord and meninges. Spina bifida can cause range from no visible symptoms to a protrusion from the spinal cord visible on the back. It can eventually cause physical and mental disabilities.
There is no cure for spina bifida and damaged nerve tissue cannot be repaired, but treatment can be done to prevent further damage. Surgery to close incomplete spinal cord is performed in most children with spina bifida and can sometimes be performed while in utero. It is best for this surgery to be performed as early as possible to prevent further neurological damage.
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