Spine Surgery

Spine Surgery

Surgical corrections of the spine are performed to relieve pain in the back caused by a variety of issues.

Conditions that may be effectively addressed through spinal surgery include:

Degenerative disc disease

This condition occurs when the rubbery, shock-absorbing discs between the vertebrae in the spine begin to shrink as a result of aging, injury or overuse. If these discs completely collapse, the joints in the vertebrae may begin to scrape against one another, resulting in pain and stiffness.

Also known as a bulged, ruptured or slipped disc, a herniated disc occurs when a piece of the nucleus of the disc pushes through the outer layer of the disc, known as the annulus. The fragment of the nucleus may move though a rupture or tear into the spinal canal, where it can press on spinal nerves and cause significant pain

Low back pain

Pain in the low back may be caused by degenerative wearing down of the spine, injuries, overuse or repetitive motions. The pain may range in severity and can be ongoing or occur intermittently.

Spinal stenosis

This condition develops when a narrowing of the space around the spinal column occurs, putting pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves. As a result, numbness, pain and weakness in the legs may develop.

Patients are evaluated by either an Orthopedic surgeon or Neurosurgon to determine if they are a candidate for spine surgery and the procedure can be done at Bakersfield Heart Hospital. Click here to find a Spine Surgeon.

Spine Surgery… What Can I Expect?

Having spine surgery can be a nervous time for patients and their families. The following information provides a general outline of what you can expect when undergoing spine surgery, and will address any fears or misconceptions you may have about the experience.
Will I be in pain after spine surgery?
It is common to have some discomfort around the wound following surgery, however, this is usually easily controlled with simple pain medications. The level of pain relief required will depend on the type of procedure you are having.
How long will I be in hospital following spine surgery?
Most patients are in hospital between 1and 5 days following spinal surgery. You will not discharge home unless it is safe to do so. Sometimes patients might need some time in rehabilitation prior to going home.
Where will my incision be?
The location of your incision will depend on the procedure you are having and the location of the problem.
Will I have a scar?
If you have surgery there will always be a scar. If the procedure is performed using minimally invasive techniques, you scar will generally be small.
What medications will I need to take during my hospital stay?
Your surgeon will advise you about what medications you will need to take around the time of surgery.
What medications will I need to stop before my surgery?
Your surgeon will advise you on medications which are safe to continue during your operation and those that need to be stopped. Most medications are safe to continue, however, those that affect blood clotting or wound healing are generally stopped prior to surgery. Your surgeon will advise how long you must be off the mediation before it is safe to have surgery.
What radiology scans will I need to have?
Most patients will need to have a new MRI scan prior to surgery. If you are unable to have an MRI generally a CT scan is sufficient. Your surgeon will advise you on what scans you need to have.
Will I need rehabilitation?
Most patients are in hospital between 1 and 5 days following spinal surgery. The length of time depends on the type of procedure you have. Sometimes patients might need some time in rehabilitation prior to going home to increase strength and mobility.
What are the risks of having spine surgery?
With modern techniques most procedures can be performed without any serious complications. However, like any surgical procedure there are risks associated with the anesthetics and the procedure itself.

Risks of Anesthesia

Risks of anesthesia will be discussed with you by your anesthetists prior to surgery. It is important that you inform us of your correct age and any past medical problems, as this can influence the risk of anesthesia. Risks include:

  • Heart problems, such as heart attack (AMI) or arrhythmia
  • Lung problems, such as infection (pneumonia) or blood clots
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT)
  • Eye or visual problems
  • Pressure wounds
  • Stroke

General Risks of Spine Surgery

Although surgery is generally safe, there are some risks whenever performing a craniotomy. These include:

  • Infection 1-2%
  • Bleeding. This can occur at the time of surgery and may necessitate a blood transfusion. It can also occur at some time after surgery.
  • Spine fluid leak (CSF leak)
  • Small risk of significant neurological injury causing paralysis
  • Chronic pain
How much will my activities be restricted?
It’s recommended that people who have undergone back surgery avoid long drives and plane rides for the first few months after surgery to prevent re-injury, especially if fusion surgery has been performed. You’ll also want to modify your exercise routine, focus on what’s recommended by your physical therapist, avoid heavy lifting.
How long will it take to recover?
Your recovery depends on many things, from your overall health to the degree of symptoms you had before surgery to the type of procedure you had done. Spinal fusion joins two discs together. It can take 6 months to a year for your backbone to heal. A laminectomy or discectomy removes a bit of tissue from the spine area. You may get better in 12 weeks.