Spinal Decompression Surgery
Spinal decompression surgery refers to any of a group of procedures performed to relieve compression and pressure on the nerve roots or the spinal cord. This could involve bony growths that may narrow the spinal nerve openings or the spinal canal, thickened joints, loose ligaments or collapsed or bulging discs.
Spinal nerve compression may cause muscle weakness, tingling, numbness, unsteadiness or acute or chronic pain. The below information goes over the different types of spinal decompression surgery, along with conditions that it may correct. If you have any further questions, please call our office.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Lumbar Decompression Surgery
Lumbar decompression surgery is most often performed in order to alleviate leg pain and numbness as a result of nerve pinching in the lumbar region that hasn’t responded to other treatments. It is not usually a treatment aimed at addressing back pain, though it may alleviate lower back pain as well as leg pain in some cases.
Issues that may be treated by our spine surgeons using lumbar decompression surgery include:
- A slipped disc with sciatica
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal cord compression as a result of metastatic cancer
- Spinal injuries
Lumbar decompression usually involves one or more of the following procedures:
Cervical Decompression Surgery
Cervical decompression is performed to alleviate neurological symptoms that originate in the cervical or neck region of the spine. This zone of the spine consists of 7 vertebrae that interact to support the head and protect the spinal cord and other nerves that control essential body functions.
Issues that may be treated with cervical decompression surgery include:
- Cervical osteoarthritis
- A cervical herniated disc
- Cervical stenosis
- Cervical degenerative disc disease
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Common Spinal Decompression Procedures
Both lumbar and cervical decompression can be broken down into further specific procedures. These are covered below.
Foraminotomy & Foraminectomy
A foraminotomy is done to widen the openings where nerve roots exit the spinal cord by removing some tissue and bone, relieving pressure. The removal of a larger amount of tissue and bone is more frequently referred to as a foraminectomy.
Laminectomy & Laminotomy
Lamina are the bony arches of the spinal canal. A laminotomy is done to remove a section of lamina. A laminectomy is performed to remove entire lamina. Both of these procedures result in a larger spinal canal and thus less pressure on the surrounding nerves.
Osteophytes, commonly known as bone spurs, are smooth growths that occur around the facet joints of the vertebrae. They usually occur as a result of spinal degeneration that comes from excessive spinal friction. Bone spurs often do not cause pain, but they may cause pain if they are located close to nerves or nerve openings. Bone spurs can be removed with surgery to alleviate this pressure and pain.
Discectomy or Microdiscectomy
A discectomy is performed to remove a portion of a herniated, bulging or otherwise damaged disc in the lumbar region of the spine to alleviate pressure that the disc is putting on surrounding nerves and structures.
A microdiscectomy accomplishes the same thing as a traditional discectomy but uses minimally invasive back surgery tools. Such tools include modern visualization devices and smaller instrumentation, which reduces damage to the surrounding tissues and speeds up recovery.
A corpectomy is a procedure done to remove all or part of the oval segment of the vertebrae, known as the vertebral body. This is often done in conjunction with a discectomy to remove the surrounding discs and a spinal fusion to stabilize the spine. A bone graft is inserted to replace the removed vertebrae and stabilize the spine while alleviating the pressure caused by the diseased vertebral body and discs.