What is Spine Surgery?
The spine is a bridge consisting of bones, joints and discs that extends between the head and coccyx and carries a large part of the body mass.
The spine is a bridge consisting of bones, joints and discs that extends between the head and coccyx and carries a large part of the body mass. Many conditions such as old age, posture disorders, traumas and structural abnormalities can damage the spine. In spine problems that usually first manifest themselves with pain, the aim is to relieve the symptoms through non-surgical treatments and conservative practices. In some more serious cases, it may be necessary to perform delicate surgical operations using spine surgery practices.
The spine is a bridge consisting of bones, joints and discs that extends between the head and coccyx and carries a large part of the body mass. The spine, which is one of the most important parts of the central nervous system and includes the spinal cord, consists of a total of 33 vertebrae, 23 of which have mobility. A healthy spine appears as a straight column when viewed from the back, but has a curved structure when viewed from the side. Many conditions such as old age, posture disorders, traumas, and structural abnormalities can damage the spine and cause various disorders in this structure. In spine problems that usually first manifest themselves with pain, the aim is to relieve symptoms and preserve spine health through non-surgical treatments and conservative practices. In some more serious cases, it may be necessary to perform delicate surgical operations using spine surgery practices. These procedures are performed in hospitals by physicians specialized in spine surgery.
What is Spine Surgery?
Spine surgery; It is a branch of surgery that deals with the surgical treatment of spine-related diseases. Functional, structural or mechanical problems in the spine may manifest themselves as pain, limitation of movement, loss of strength and sensation. Disc problems, calcification (arthrosis) in the vertebral joints, spinal curvatures, hernias, some congenital diseases, tumors and infections may be the cause of these negativities in the spine. Surgeons involved in the treatment of these problems are Brain and Nerve Surgery or Orthopedics and Traumatology specialists who have received special training in the field of spine surgery. Due to its field of study, spine surgery clinics work from a multidisciplinary perspective in coordination with medical units such as neurology, physical therapy and rehabilitation; Diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of many diseases such as scoliosis, lumbar and cervical disc herniations, spinal traumas, degenerative diseases, spinal tumors and infections are carried out. Surgical treatment methods are very sensitive operations. The main goal of these surgeries is to first stop the progression of the existing disease and then provide significant clinical improvement.
What are the Types of Spine Surgery?
The spine is a very complex structure and the surgical treatment technique of each region of this structure and each problem located in this region may differ greatly from each other. The most valuable factors in solving such complex problems are; It is the “Experienced Doctors” and the “Technological Infrastructure” that will elevate this experience to much more successful levels. Although the surgical techniques applied today span a wide range, we can examine some of them under the following main headings:
Discectomy and Microdiscectomy
When the cartilage cushions between the vertebrae are damaged and put pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord, it is called “Disc Herniation / Waist-Neck Herniation”, and the surgical removal of this herniation is called “Discectomy” surgery. Discectomy procedures performed with minimally invasive methods are called microdiscectomy. The surgical method that is still the gold standard all over the world is “Microdiscectomy”.
Disc Prosthesis Placement
It is the process of removing a damaged spinal disc by a spine surgeon and replacing it with artificial discs (Disc Prosthesis) produced for this purpose. Although it is a method mostly used in cervical region (neck) surgeries, it can also be applied in the lumbar region (waist) in some selected patients. The secondary goal of this surgery is to preserve spinal mobility in the operated area.
In patients with stenosis in the spinal canal (Spinal Stenosis), it is the process of partial or complete removal of the thin bony part of the back of the spine, also called lamina, aiming to increase the diameter of this canal. In this way, the pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots is eliminated. This operation is the most commonly performed operation for the treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis. However, in some cases where laminectomy alone is not sufficient, it can be performed together with spinal fusion surgery.
The spine is a structure formed by 33 vertebrae that have very complex functional and mechanical connections with each other. Some diseases can disrupt both the mechanical and functional integrity of two or more vertebrae, and as a result, problems such as vertebral slippage (listhesis-lumbar slippage), humpback (kyphosis), and lateral spinal curvatures (scoliosis) may occur. In order to eliminate such disorders; The process of permanently connecting two or more bones in the spine is called spinal fusion/stabilization. This procedure is preferred as a method in the treatment of spinal fractures and trauma, damage and degeneration of the discs. The operation can be performed with or without instrumentation, depending on the use of devices such as screws and rods, or using different methods such as the use of bone tissues taken from another part of the body.
It is the complete or partial removal of one or more of the vertebrae. These surgeries are mostly performed on patients whose vertebral integrity has been completely destroyed as a result of diseases affecting the main body of the spine and it is not possible to restore the damaged vertebra with other treatment methods. This condition usually occurs due to trauma, tumor or infections. Especially in cases where the entire vertebra is removed, a material called “Cage” is placed in place of the removed vertebra; Thus, spinal integrity is restored and is always performed together with stabilization and fusion procedures.
Vertebroplasty is the injection of an acrylic-based substance, also called bone cement, into the vertebrae in cases of spinal fractures or cases where cancer has spread (metastasized) to the vertebrae. The procedure consists of advancing a needle with a diameter of approximately 2 mm under the control of fluoroscopy or O-arm CT to the middle of the spinal body and injecting bone cement through this needle. This substance, which is injected in a paste-like state, hardens within 5-15 minutes, increases the durability of the spine, enables easier pain relief and causes partial death of tumor cells in this area.
Spine Surgery Risks
The majority of spine surgeries involve irreversible procedures. For this reason, before the decision for surgery is made, the patient should be evaluated in a multi-faceted manner by a team of physicians who are experts in the field, and necessary multidisciplinary evaluations should be made about the necessity of surgery. Patients who are decided to undergo surgery; Generally, these are cases in which effective results have not been obtained despite all other medical treatment options being tried, the disease has progressed too much, the quality of life has been greatly negatively affected, or sudden neurological damage has developed. The only treatment method for such patients is spine surgery operations, which will be performed by determining the appropriate technique.
As with all types of surgery, there may be some low-probability risks in spine surgery. Some of these risks include:
The body’s reaction to anesthesia or medications given
Degenerations such as breakage in implants placed
Although the probability of occurrence is low, such risks may occur for spine surgery operations and therefore necessary information about the risks is given by the physician. These risks are minimized in operations performed by surgeons who are experts and experienced in their field. In the pre-operative period, it is important to inform the patient well about the gains to be achieved after surgical treatment and any unexpected situations that may arise in order to prevent the negativities that may occur after the operation.
What are the Advantages of Spine Surgery?
Spine surgery; These are treatment methods that allow the elimination of serious problems such as severe loss of muscle strength, severe neck, waist and leg pain, significant loss of sensation, numbness around the hips, problems with urine output and loss of sexual function. In cases where such problems cannot / cannot be treated with non-surgical methods, it is mandatory to resort to spine surgery. Spine surgery largely eliminates such serious complications that seriously affect the quality of life. In surgeries of the spine, which is a sensitive structure, advantages such as a lower risk of complications and a faster recovery period can be achieved by using minimally invasive techniques for patients with the appropriate profile. For this reason, choosing healthcare institutions that are competent to perform operations with minimally invasive surgical techniques will be beneficial in terms of spine diseases that can be treated with this method.
What are the Disadvantages of Spine Surgery?
The most commonly performed surgical operation for chronic back pain that is non-specific and occurs with degenerative disorders is spinal fusion. This operation, which is performed by combining the vertebrae, places a certain limitation on the extension capacity of the nerves and the mobility of the spine. Although this limitation can be stated as a disadvantage, it does not create an activity limitation that will affect movements in daily life. Therefore, this situation may be taken into consideration in operations planned considering the benefit-loss relationship, especially in the presence of compelling symptoms. Another risk of spinal fusion is that the bones do not fully fuse together. This situation, which may require a second operation, is very rare. However, smoking can significantly increase the risk of this complication as it makes it harder for bones to heal. Therefore, patients who have a smoking habit after spine surgery should quit this habit.
If you are experiencing problems such as pain, limitation of movement, or loss of sensation, which are signs of diseases that may affect your spine, you can contact a healthcare institution and have your examination and diagnostic tests done. If you are diagnosed with any spine disease, you can receive treatment in line with the recommendations given by your physician about spine surgery and other treatment options and live a better quality of life.