What to Expect from Spine Surgery?

You may have tried a variety of options for your back pain including over the counter pain relievers, physical therapy and chiropractic manipulation. You may have discovered a tumor and are required to go straight to the surgical option. Either way, preparing for major surgery can be overwhelming, but arming yourself with knowledge and statistics may offer comfort in addition to a greater understanding of your journey toward healing.

Whether due to injury or deterioration, it is now possible to correct many back problems and relieve your pain. Hundreds of thousands of spine surgeries are performed each year and the numbers are on the rise for a few reasons, including a general aging of populations in general, a downward trend in physical activity and an upward trend in obesity.

Orthopedic healing has been around since primitive times. Fast forward to the 20th century when X-ray became a very important component in spinal procedures. By the 1970s and 1980s, microscopes, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and advanced instruments improved diagnosis, treatment precision and safety. In the last decade, spinal image guided surgery has greatly benefitted from important advancements like portable intraoperative computed tomography systems as well as high-speed, high-definition computerization and surgical tracking technology.1 Today, image guidance and intraoperative imaging are established and well-known components of many different surgical spine procedures.

Thanks to advancements in technologies and surgical techniques over the years, spine surgery has become significantly more effective.

Basic Steps of Spine Surgery:
Step 1: Patient goes under anesthesia and is positioned—on his/her back, side or stomach, depending upon the approach and surgery being performed.

Step 2: The image guidance system is used to review the surgical plan and workflow.

Step 3: The image guidance system automatically registers the patient and calibrates the patient to the images on the digital monitor.

Step 4: The surgeon reaches the spinal column through a minimally invasive incision either in the front or back, depending upon the procedure.

Step 5: The surgical intervention is performed.

Step 5:  Intraoperative imaging is used to verify that the desired outcome is achieved.

Step 6: The incision is closed and dressed.

1 Doniel Drazin, M.D., Terrence T. Kim, M.D., David W. Polly Jr, M.D., and J. Patrick Johnson, M.D., Introduction: Intraoperative spinal imaging and navigation, Neurosurgical Focus, Mar 2014 / Vol. 36 / No. 3.