Spine Surgery

Overview

Spine Surgery for Back Pain

Severe back pain can be debilitating, affecting your ability to do your routine activities. Spine surgery can offer you long-term relief.

At Aurora Health Care, our specialists are leaders in spine surgery, with extensive experience performing robotic-assisted spine surgery.

We find the treatment solution that works for you. More than 90% of people who come see us about back pain can find relief through nonsurgical methods. Those methods include physical therapy and integrative care like acupuncture and massage therapy.

However, if nonsurgical methods aren’t working, talk to your doctor about whether spine surgery is right for you.

If you have one of these conditions, you may be a candidate for spine surgery:

The Aurora Difference

Spine Surgery at Aurora

At Aurora, you’ll find effective care for back pain, customized to your specific needs. If nonsurgical methods have not provided relief, we may decide together that surgery will offer you the best long-term results. Our experienced team will work with you to find the surgical option that is right for your needs.

At Aurora, you’ll find:

  • Leading-edge technology: Not only do we use the latest medical technology – we’re helping create it:
    • Robot-assisted spine surgery: We were the first hospital in the world to perform robot-assisted spine surgery and have performed more of these procedures than any other health system worldwide.
    • Operative arthroscopy: We helped develop this innovative, robotically operated arthroscope, the first of its kind. In fact, our spinal surgeon was the first surgeon in the world to use it and has performed more surgeries with it than anyone else. What’s more, this device changes the way we perform spine surgeries. Because the arthroscope provides a better view of the surgical area, we can target the spine with more precision. This approach leads to less damage to the healthy tissue and better results for you.
  • Minimally invasive (tissue preserving) techniques: The goal of robotic and minimally invasive technology is to preserve more of your healthy tissue. Using these specialized techniques limits muscle damage and results in a more precise surgery, a faster recovery and better long-term health.
  • Advanced diagnostics: At the beginning of every treatment plan is a detailed diagnosis. The more precise your diagnosis, the better we can customize a treatment plan for you. We use the most advanced imaging methods available, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, to see detailed images of the spinal cord and nerves. Our team is also involved in research that incorporates real-time MRI imaging during surgery.
  • Orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons working on one team: At Aurora, our orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery teams function as one unit. Ours is one of the only spinal surgical departments in the state that includes both orthopedic and neurosurgery experts. This unique level of integration ensures that you get the most comprehensive, effective care possible.
  • Collaborative care: We work closely with primary care physicians to help you find the right treatment option. We also collaborate with integrative medicine specialists to provide services like acupuncture, massage therapy and chiropractic care. And our electronic health record system makes it easy for all your team members to stay on the same page about your care.
  • Customized rehabilitation: After spine surgery, you’ll need rehabilitation to regain your function to the fullest extent possible. We’ll work with you to create a customized rehabilitation plan that moves at your pace. During rehab, you’ll work with physical therapists who specialize in spine rehabilitation. These expert physical therapists have extra training in working with people after a spine surgery, helping them feel better and move more easily. Our physical therapists will constantly measure your progress, changing the plan when necessary so you can achieve your goals for recovery. Learn more about orthopedic physical therapy.

Types

Types of Spine Surgery

We provide a full range of spine surgeries to help you feel better and the live the life you want. No matter what’s causing your back pain, we’ll work with you to find the treatment solution that best meets your needs. Procedures we provide include:

  • Lumbar laminectomy: Sometimes called a decompression surgery, this procedure aims to relieve pressure on your spinal cord and nerves. We remove the lamina – a part of your vertebrae – to create more space in the spinal canal. For many, more space means less pressure and therefore less pain.
  • Discectomy: This procedure treats a herniated disc, which occurs when the inner part of the disc moves out of place, causing pain. A discectomy removes the damaged part of the disc so you can feel better.
  • Spinal fusions: We fuse, or connect, the vertebrae that are causing pain. The vertebrae become a single bone, instead of moving around and causing pain.
  • Neurosurgery: We treat many people who have cancer that has spread to the bone. The cancer may have caused the spine to become unstable, or it may put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Neurosurgery procedures can remove all or part of the tumor, relieving pain and lessening neurological difficulties. Learn more about neurosurgery at Aurora.

What to Expect

Preparing for Spine Surgery

There are many different types of spine surgery. Your surgical team will discuss your specific procedure in detail so you know what to expect before, during and after your surgery.

Here is a general idea of what you can expect:

  1. Before your surgery: We’ll give you instructions about eating and drinking restrictions. If you take regular medications, we’ll tell you whether it’s safe to take them as usual, or if you’ll need to stop taking them beforehand.
  2. Anesthesia: You’ll most likely receive general anesthesia for the procedure, so you’ll be asleep and won’t feel any pain.
  3. During surgery: Your surgeon will access the spine using small incisions and specialized instruments, including an operating microscope. This microscope magnifies the operating area, providing a detailed view so your procedure is as precise as possible.
  4. After the procedure: Some spine surgeries are outpatient procedures, so you can go home the same day. Other surgeries may require a hospital stay of two to three days. We will discuss your specific surgery with you in detail before the procedure so you will know how long your hospital stay will be.

Recovery After Spine Surgery

After your procedure, we’ll discuss the recovery phase with you so you know exactly what to expect. We’ll talk about your follow-up care, when you can return to daily activities and when you should start physical therapy.

For most people, rehabilitation with our physical therapists begins soon after surgery. A customized rehab plan will help restore your strength and function so you can enjoy a full, active life after spine surgery.

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