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What Are the Different Kinds of Orthopedic Spine Surgery?

An illustration of a healthy spine and one with spinal osteoarthritis.
A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used in surgeries to make incisions.
Orthopedic spine surgery is usually considered a last resort for people with back pain due to the serious side effects associated.
Sections of the spine.
Article Details
  • Written By: Jami Yontz
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 18 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Orthopedic spine surgery is usually a last resort for people suffering from back pain, as these types of surgeries are invasive and have more side effects and risk than less invasive treatment options. The type of surgery chosen depends on the specific cause of a person’s spinal pain. If a patient suffers from a herniated disc, for example, a surgeon might perform a discectomy. Foraminotomy and laminectomy surgeries are typically performed to relieve various causes of spinal nerve pressure, and spinal fusions and disc replacements are used to correct degenerative spine conditions. Persons with spinal pain who are considering a surgical route for treatment should consult their physicians for more specific information and to determine an individual course of treatment.

A discectomy is a type of orthopedic spine surgery to alleviate the pain from a herniated disc. A herniated disc occurs when a disc in the spinal column moves from its normal position between vertebrae, which can cause the disc to pinch or compress nerves in the spinal cord. A discectomy, also known as an open discectomy, removes the fragments of the herniated disc. An orthopedic spine surgeon may remove additional bone fragments that could cause future disc ruptures as well.

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Another type of orthopedic spine surgery is called a foraminotomy. A foraminotomy removes bone and tissue that are causing pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord. This procedure is usually performed on patients who suffer from foraminal stenosis, a disease in which a narrowing of the space in the spine where the nerves exit the spinal column occurs. A foraminotomy may also be performed if bone growths in the spinal column cause the space to become smaller.

A laminectomy is a type of orthopedic spine surgery that removes part of the bone of a vertebra and sometimes the surrounding ligaments or joints to create more space for the nerve root. This surgery is sometimes performed prior to a discectomy to expose the underlying nerves and tissues while removing parts of the herniated disc. A laminectomy is most commonly performed on patients who suffer from spinal stenosis.

Spinal fusion surgeries are used to connect two or more vertebrae to prevent movement. Metal rods, wires or other stabilizing elements are put in place to allow the vertebrae to fuse together during the healing process. This type of orthopedic spine surgery is suggested for patients with such spine conditions as spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease, scoliosis and other conditions that cause the spinal cord to become unstable.

Disc replacement orthopedic spine surgery replaces the disc with a plastic and metal prosthesis. Spinal disc replacement is seen as an alternative to a fusion procedure, which can cause stiffness because of the loss of the movement between the vertebrae that have been fused together. However, disc replacement surgery can lead to other medical problems because the prosthesis can become infected or worn out.

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