Spinal Stenosis Surgery
Spinal stenosis surgery can be performed to relieve pinched nerves, spinal cord compression, or to address a structural defect in the spine that is causing spinal stenosis. Where mechanical obstruction is the cause of the spinal narrowing it is likely that back surgery will provide the only opportunity for long-lasting relief from spinal stenosis symptoms. Conservative treatments for spinal stenosis are the preferred option for most patients but,once such therapies have been exhausted and are no longer relieving pain and aiding mobility, spinal stenosis surgery is often recommended.
Why Spinal Stenosis Surgery?
There are a variety of causes of spinal stenosis, including disc bulging and herniation, spinal slippage, fracture, congenital foraminal stenosis, and more. Diagnostic imaging and selective nerve root blocks are often performed to help isolate the exact source of any pain in the spine. This is vital to reduce the risks of spinal stenosis surgery complications and the investigations prior to surgery can be lengthy for some patients.
Types of Spinal Stenosis Surgery
Lumbar spinal stenosis surgery is the most commonly conducted treatment, followed by surgery for cervical spinal stenosis. Thoracic spinal stenosis is less common as the thoracic spine is less mobile than other regions and, therefore, less susceptible to the wear and tear in the neck and lower back. Symptoms of spinal stenosis that usually prompt a recommendation for surgery include:
- Weakness, numbness, or altered sensation in the legs or arms
- Difficulty walking or standing
- Little or no relief is found with medications or other conservative therapies
- Mobility and quality of life are reduced due to pain or dysfunction.
Common Spinal Stenosis Surgeries
It is also important to note that patients must be in generally good health in order to undergo spinal stenosis surgery. Common procedures include foraminotomy to open up the spaces through which the spinal nerves exit the spinal column, laminectomy to decompress the spine, laminotomy, spinal fusion, and also minimally invasive procedures including endoscopic spine surgery.
Spinal Stenosis Surgery Success Rates
The success of spinal stenosis surgery depends largely on the extent of existing damage and the longevity of such damage. Some nerves may have incurred irreversible injury meaning that some symptoms of spinal stenosis may be present even after surgery. Other factors influencing surgical outcome include the age of the patient, as discussed in the Fusion Abstract-JAMA, and the presence of other medical conditions. Smoking is another major factor in the success of spinal stenosis surgery.
Last Updated: 05/08/2012