Our experienced surgeons at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital are always caring and compassionate towards our patients and we guarantee that we will take all the necessary steps to make sure they get a healthy and normal recovery.
In some cases, due to injuries or diseases, the spine can become damaged, which will lead to back stiffness and pain. There are numerous treatments, such as special exercises, medication, and massages that can alleviate or even correct these conditions. If these don’t work, however, spine reconstructive surgery might be required.
The spine is made up of bones which are connected with each other, called vertebrae. Between each vertebra, there is a cartilaginous disc which has to role to absorb shock and permit smoother movement of the facet joints. Inside the spinal column lies the spinal cord. These series of nerves connect the brain to different parts of the body. Due to injuries or diseases, the vertebrae can be damaged. If this happens, the patient will feel stiffness in his back and constant pain and discomfort. In these cases, it is recommended that he should take special medication and follow physical therapy to improve his back health. Spinal surgery is recommended only when the other treatment options don’t work.
Spine reconstructive surgery, or spinal fusion surgery, is the medical procedure in which two or more vertebrae are fused together in order to improve the patient’s condition.
The first step is putting the patient under general anesthesia in order to ensure that he doesn’t feel pain.
Depending on the section of the spine where the problem is located, the surgery can either be anterior (performed from the front of the body) or posterior (performed from the back).
The surgeon will make an incision over the spine. When he reaches the spine, he will remove parts of the affected vertebrae to prepare them for fusion.
Next, screws and rods will be placed into them. Pieces of bone will be removed from the patient’s pelvis or will be collected from a donor.
These pieces will be attached to the rods in order for the vertebrae to remain stable. Weeks after the surgery, the bone grafts will fuse together, keeping the spine stable and treating the condition. When he is finished, the surgeon will close the incisions and stitch them back together.
These are the benefits of spine reconstructive surgery:
- The patient will not feel pain or stiffness in the back anymore
- The patient will be more productive in his everyday life
- The patient won’t have to take constant medication for his condition anymore
- The patient’s day-to-day comfort will significantly increase
- The patient can now take part in activities which were hard, or impossible, to perform
The spine is a very delicate body part, so the patient has to stick to his recovery plan. After the surgery, he will remain in the hospital for 5-7 days. The patient will be closely monitored during these days to ensure that his back is healing normally. He will receive antibiotics to prevent any infections and a catheter will help drain his urine for a few days so that he doesn’t have to move his back at all. The patient will not be allowed to lift heavy things and he will have to attend physical therapy sessions in order to strengthen his back muscles and improve his mobility. The overall recovery period can last anywhere between 6 months and a year.
Because this is such an intricate procedure, complications can appear. The wound can get infected and bleed heavily, although this is very improbable because the patient will be administered a big dose of antibiotics. In very rare cases, the patient may suffer nerve damage which may permanently damage the feeling or even movement in his legs. If the bone graft came from a donor, there is the risk of the body rejecting it.