Spine General (involves multiple spine areas)

I understand that a disc replacement is a better option than a fusion because it saves the motion in the spine. But if I have a disc replacement, do I get my full motion back? I'm not sure how much motion I have now. I'm hardly moving at all because there's so much pain.

Surgery for degenerative disc disease has traditionally been discectomy (removal of the disc) and spinal fusion. But with the new total disc replacement procedure, more patients are opting for this motion sparing technique. Fusion limits motion at the fused vertebral segments, whereas disc replacement tries to keep as much of the natural motion as possible.




My 72-year-old father had surgery to remove some cysts from inside his spine. The pathology report just came in the mail today. It described them as synovial cysts with intraligamentous bursal communicating channels connected to the facet joint at the L3-4 level. Evidently, they were taking up space inside the spinal canal putting pressure on the nerves and causing a heck of a lot of back and leg pain. What are these cysts and what causes them?

A synovial cyst is a mass linked with a joint. It is formed when leakage of synovial fluid from inside the joint forms a gel-filled pouch lined withepithelial cells or cells that are epithelial-like. Epithelial cells are special cells that line cells the cavities and surfaces of structures throughout the body, including cysts. In the case of these cysts, there is a channel connecting joint to cyst. The channel may be long enough that the cyst isn't even next to the joint.




Is it safe to accept bone from someone else for a spinal fusion? And why can't a family member donate his or her bone like blood donations?

Spinal fusion is aided by the placement of bone chips placed alongside and between the vertebral bodies. These bone graft materials help jump start the healing process and foster a successful fusion.




Synovial Cyst of the Spine: What Is It?

Surgeons removing synovial cysts from the spine have noticed some interesting things about these structures. Sometimes they are located quite a bit away from the joint they originate from. Sometimes they are on both sides of the joint. Sometimes they contain bits of joint cartilage, scar tissue, and even fragments of bone. These unusual findings led the researchers who wrote this article to study these cysts more closely and report on what they are made of and how they are formed.




Does Type of Bone Graft Used in Spinal Fusion Increase Risk of Infection?

So, you or someone you know is planning on having a spinal fusion. Lots of thoughts go through your mind as you prepare for the big day. Meanwhile, your surgeon is also giving the procedure some preplanning and preparation. Everything that can be done to minimize infection or other postoperative problems is considered. The surgeon will choose what type of bone graft material to use.




My father is scheduled to have a spinal fusion operation next week. He seems to be in fairly good health, but we are concerned that this could end up a disaster. We've seen so many other older adults have some type of surgery and never fully recover to their former selves. We'd hate to see that with Dad. How can we even evaluate something like this?

Surgeons want the best for their patients. And they pride themselves on obtaining the best results for each patient no matter what kind of surgery is being done. Having said that, they also are very careful in what is referred to as patient selection to assure those good results.




I just came back from a preop visit with a nurse from the surgery center where I am scheduled for back surgery later this week. It's supposed to be a simple decompression technique. They say I'll get antibiotics right before the operation in case of infection. How well does this work and how often do infections occur? I'm thinking about cancelling the surgery. The last thing I need right now is another medical problem.

Decompression is a surgical procedure designed to take pressure off the spinal cord and/or spinal nerve roots. The surgeon removes a portion of the bone called the lamina. The lamina forms part of back/leg pain associated with spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) or degenerative disc disease.




Lower Rate of Infection with Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery

Even simple spinal surgeries can result in serious problems when infection occurs. Despite sterile techniques, any open incision leaves the patient at increased risk of wound infection. The use of minimally invasive spinal surgery (MISS) may be changing the picture.




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