Making the decision to have back surgery is difficult, and often only considered when other treatments have been unsuccessful. While back pain is quite common, surgery is often a last resort, however there are numerous procedures available to correct back pain and other issues you might be having with your back. The different options may be overwhelming to you, and learning what different back surgeries entail, and what they are used for, is important for deciding whether you wish to proceed with an operation.
Spinal fusion works to join two or more vertebrae (bones) in your spine so there's no more movement between them. Spinal fusions are usually done after a diskectomy, a procedure that removes damaged or herniated disks, or when trying to treat spinal stenosis in order to help relieve back pain. It can also be done when trying to treat injuries or fractures to the spine, arthritis, scoliosis, or weak, unstable spines. A graft (usually made of bone) is used to fuse the bones in your spine together permanently.
Before surgery begins, you'll be placed under general anesthesia. If the fusion is being done on your back or neck, over the spine, you'll need to lie facedown. Your surgeon will separate muscles and tissues in order to expose your spine before a graft is used to fuse the bones together. If the operation is on your lower back, you'll need to lie on your side. Retractors will be used to carefully separate and hold soft tissues and blood vessels apart, giving the surgeon room to graft and fuse the vertebrae before the incision is closed back up.
Diskectomy is a surgery where disks in your spinal column are removed. When a disk in your spinal column has moved out of place, it's known as a herniated disk. Because herniated disks can place pressure on your spinal cord and nerves, resulting in pain and diskomfort, diskectomies are often performed to help alleviate pain.
First, you're put under general anesthesia. A large incision is made on your back, over the spine. Muscles and tissues are then moved to expose your spine to the surgeon. A small part of your lamina bone is removed before the surgeon locates the problem disk(s) in your spine and removes material from the inside, along with other disk fragments.
Disk replacement involves replacing worn or degenerated disks in your lower spinal column with an artificial medical-grade metal or plastic disk. It is seen as an alternative to spinal fusion surgery, and often recommended when the sources of your back pain come from at least two disks in your spinal column.
Before surgery, you're given general anesthesia. During surgery, your surgeon will make a small incision in your abdomen. Tissues, muscles, and blood vessels will be moved aside to allow the surgeon access to your spine. The damaged disks are then removed and replaced with new, artificial ones.
Interlaminar implants are U-shaped implants made of titanium alloy which can fit between two bones in the lower part of your spine to help relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. It's also used to provide some stability after surgical decompression of spinal stenosis. Unlike spinal fusions, interlaminar implants allow some movement to occur in the affected areas.
After being placed under general anesthesia, a small incision is made on your lower back. Muscles, nerves, and tissues are moved aside by the surgeon by using retractors. Any boney overgrowth interfering with nerves will be removed to make room for the interlaminar implant. The implant is then inserted between two spinous processes (a bony projection off the back of each vertebrae in your spine), and sometimes secured with screws.
When it comes to problems with your back, you have many different options. You should consult with your orthopedic surgeon at a clinic like http://www.towncenterorthopaedics.com to help you determine what back surgery would be best for your purposes. However, it is good to know your options before you talk to your doctor.