Spinal decompression surgery, the general term for any type of spinal surgery to relieve pressure on the spine or supporting nerve roots, is typically performed when back pain stops responding to conservative treatments. The surgery itself frequently involves fairly common procedures involving minimal risk to otherwise healthy patients.*
The simplest type of spinal decompression surgery, in terms of how the surgery is performed, is a discectomy. During the procedure, herniated disc material in the nucleus pulposus (the central part of the disc) that’s pressing on the spinal cord or nerve root is removed. However, the entire disc is not removed.
When removing disc material fails to relieve pressure on the spine and supporting structures, spinal decompression involving removal of bone and/or tissue may be necessary. During either a laminotomy or laminectomy, the lamina (bony arch of the spinal canal) is removed or partially removed to relieve pressure on the spine by increasing the size of the spinal canal to achieve decompression. Bone and adjacent bone tissue are removed during either a foraminotomy or a foraminectomy, with the latter involving the removal of a large amount of tissue and bone to relieve pressure. In some cases, bone spurs (osteophytes) need to be removed.
If pressure on the spine results in either spinal stenosis (abnormal curvature of the spine) or cervical myelopathy (spinal cord compression in the neck), a procedure referred to as a corpectomy may be the most effective method to provide relief. During a corpectomy, both the discs and the body of an individual vertebra are removed. Depending on the specific technique used, fusion surgery – involving the insertion of a bone graft in the space left after removal – may also be needed to stabilize the spine.
*Specifically refers to stats on patients requiring surgery to relieve pressure on nerve roots.
Patients requiring a spinal decompression surgery can reach out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration for a second opinion, to ask questions about a specific condition or surgical procedure, or to request an in-person consultation with one our experienced and professional Santa Monica spine surgeons. Call (310) 828-7757 and speak with us today.