5 Questions to Ask Your Spine Surgeon Before Undergoing to Back Surgery

1. What is the exact procedure that has been recommend ?

Spine Surgery has evolved over time and not all spine surgeries are the same or involve the same risks and benefit profiles. So one Should gather all sort of information from the surgeon about the recommended procedure, the exact nature of the surgery. Things to expect after the surgery and time of recovery. You can also ask about the surgeon’s personal experience with the procedure. You can also ask the surgeon if he is an exclusive spine surgeon or also operates on patients with other issues. In general, it is always better to get operated from a fellowship trained spine surgeon who exclusively operates on spine patients rather than getting operated from a orthopaedic surgeon who treats fractures, does joint replacement or other orthopaedic procedures along with spine surgery or a neuro surgeon who operated primarily on brain patients and occasionally does spine surgeries.

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2. Can the procedure be done in minimally invasive spine surgery technique ?

With advancement in science of spine surgery, many spine procedures which were conducted open surgery can now be done through small incision and without any collateral tissue damage. Open Surgery involves a lot of tissue trauma, intra operative bleeding and has a slow recovery. On the other hand minimally invasive spine surgeries are quick and have less blood loss and patients can expect to be up and about on the same day after the spine surgery and go home right next day after the surgery.

Minimally invasive spine surgical options are :-

  1. Minimally invasive lumbar decompression
  2. Micro endoscopic discectomy
  3. Minimally Invasive TLIF Surgery
  4. Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion surgery (ALIF)
  5. Oblique Lumbar interbody fusion surgery (OLIF)
  6. Minimally invasive spine fracture fixation
  7. Vertebroplasty

3. Can a fusion be avoided by doing a motion preserving spine surgery ?

Though spine fusion surgeries may not be completely avoided, In a vast majority of patients with lumbar spine issues can be treated with Motion preserving Lumbar spine surgery. Minimally invasive spine surgery has immense benefit in reducing the need of spine fusion procedures and most of the lumbar spine problems can be dealt with Minimally invasive Decompression and motion preserving spine surgery. By doing this, you can potentially save the motion in the spine and have a long lasting positive effect on your over all spine health. Also recovery from these procedures is rapid and there is hardly and limitation of activities after complete recovery.

4. What are the recent advances in the fusion techniques that can best suite me ?

In recent years, there has been a revolution in the way fusion surgeries are carried out in the lumbar spine. The traditional open surgeries for the spine involve a lot of work with sharp instruments around the delicate nerves in the spine. There may be complications like bleeding, nerve injury, weakness and paralysis and increased pain associated with it. In recent years, 2 new techniques of lumbar fusion have chaged this scenario. Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion surgery (ALIF) and Oblique Lumbar interbody fusion surgery (OLIF). In these technques, the spine surgery is done through small incision on the belly. All the work the surgery is done without even touching the delicate nerves. These procedures involve very little blood loss, provide a wide area for spine fusion and have very rapid recovery and close to zero risk of having nerve injury or weakness after the surgery.

5. What will be my post operative course ?

This is an important point to discuss with your surgeon. This helps to set up your expectations and also helps you to plan your recovery phase in advance. You may want to discuss would there be pain post op or would there be need of physiotherapy. Would the surgery involve a period of bed rest and how long would you have to take time off from work. Again with Minimally invasive spine surgery, all these issues are well addressed and there is no need of bed rest after the surgery. Typically in our experience, we do not recommend bed rest after spine surgery, the average stay is 1 to 2 days and patients can expect to go back to sedentary job by 2 weeks after the surgery and can do heavy manual activities by 6-8 weeks after the spine sugery.