Why Outpatient Spine Surgery?
Back pain statistics are staggering. More than 80% of Americans will have back pain at some point. For some, there comes a time where a doctor might bring up outpatient spine surgery, namely lumbar decompression. Back pain can quickly turn into debilitating nerve pain. The spine consists of bones called vertebrae, facet joints, and discs that space each bone. Discs can bulge out of place, pressing on nerves and causing a symptom called sciatica. Other conditions that cause nerve pain include lumbar spondylosis, spinal stenosis, tumors, or injuries.
Who would need outpatient spine surgery?
Even with chronic back pain or a specific spinal condition, surgery is not for everyone. Most patients respond well to medication, rest, physical therapy, and other non-surgical treatments. A patient will need surgery if these treatments fail to bring relief after several months. Surgery also helps if the pain affects movement or causes other health issues. Besides the spinal condition, the patient should be in good health to be eligible for lumbar decompression.
What is lumbar decompression?
Lumbar decompression is a general term for a range of outpatient spine surgeries with big benefits. The goal of lumbar decompression is to reduce the pressure on nerves causing pain and sciatica. The surgery can also clean up any bone spurs or elements pressing on the nerves. Outpatient surgery means the surgeon will use minimally invasive means. Minimally invasive surgery, often called keyhole surgery, provides faster recovery times, same-day discharge, and high success rates.
Time to decompress
A successful surgery starts before the operating room. The patient will discuss the process with the surgeon. Blood tests, x-rays, and MRIs can help the doctor assess patient health before surgery. Once all looks well, the surgery will proceed after the patient signs the necessary documentation and follows surgery preparation instructions. Lumbar decompression happens under general anesthesia, meaning the patient will be face down and asleep during the process. The doctor will make small incisions on the back to access the spine. From there, the operation to relieve the pain begins.
Types of lumbar decompression
Lumbar decompression may consist of more than one type of procedure. Sometimes, the surgeon will have to operate on more than one disc or vertebrae and can use a combination of techniques. These techniques include:
- A discectomy, where the surgeon removes part of the herniated disc.
- A laminectomy or facetectomy, where part of the lamina or facet joint is removed.
- Spinal fusion, where the surgeon fuses 2 vertebrae to make a solid structure. Fusions happen with bone grafts, metal screws, and other synthetic materials.
The surgery can take 1 or 2 hours, depending on the procedures performed. From there, the surgeon will close the incisions, and the patient will move to recovery. Once all goes well in recovery, the patient can leave the hospital.
Risks, success rates, and recovery
Outpatient spine surgery is renowned for being safe and effective. However, like all surgical procedures, there are some risks involved. These include infection, blood clots, dural tears, or nerve injury. Recovery can take several weeks to months, depending on the surgeries performed. A discectomy, for instance, can take 6-8 weeks before patients resume full mobility. Spinal fusions, on the other hand, can take up to 12 months to fully heal. Make sure to follow the doctor’s instructions on pain management, physical therapy, and wound care. With the right recovery, lumbar decompression has a high success and satisfaction rate.
Get pain relief with outpatient spine surgery
A patient will only need lumbar decompression in severe cases. Conservative treatments must fail, and the patient must report a decline in performing basic activities. Outpatient surgery can bring pain relief and improved function. Discuss all the possible treatment options with a spinal surgeon today.