Men and women over 50 are most likely to be affected by spinal stenosis, although narrowing of the spine can also be caused by birth defects or injury to the spine. Most people with spinal stenosis will never need surgery for the condition. For patients who do need surgery to relieve increasing pressure on the spine, supporting discs, and adjacent nerves, advances in surgical procedures to treat spinal stenosis offer increased odds of a successful recovery.
Facet joints connecting vertebrae are susceptible to arthritis and increased instability if the narrowing of the spine worsens over time. The purpose of facet joint replacement surgery, as an alternative to fusion surgery in many cases, is to preserve mobility and spinal alignment. Another plus for the procedure is that added stress isn’t placed on other parts of the spine. In order to qualify for this newer procedure, patients must meet the following criteria:
• Having pain that’s becoming more intense when it does occur
• Experiencing little or no relief from non-surgical spine treatments (medications, physical therapy)
• Reporting sustained discomfort rather than intermittent bouts of pain associated with certain movements
Considered the gold standard for spinal stenosis surgery, lumber laminectomy involves the removal of a small part of the bone over the affected nerve root. The purpose of the procedure is to provide more space for the nerve root. Advances with this procedure include smaller incisions than what was previously required and improved real-time monitoring technology to allow surgeons to be more precise with their actions. Newer surgeries associated with spinal stenosis include:
• Anterior cervical discectomy (often performed with fusion surgery)
• Interspinous process device insertion (only approved for central canal stenosis patients)
• Total Facet Arthroplasty System placement (involves the insertion of a facet joint replacement device)
Patients in need of surgery to correct spinal stenosis can also take comfort in knowing that exploratory surgery to identify the affected area is largely a thing of the past. Advances in imaging procedures now make it easier for surgeons to accurately determine the part(s) of the spine affected by the condition, further increasing the odds of a positive outcome for patients.
For more information about the latest in spine surgery and to find out which treatment might be right for you, reach out to The Spine Institute Center in Beverly Hills at (310) 828-7757. We are happy to answer questions you may have and schedule an in-person consultation with one of our experienced spine surgeons.