Spine Surgery

Comprehensive and Advanced Surgical Treatments for Spine Problems and Trauma

Loyola Medicine’s spine surgery team offers comprehensive therapy and advanced surgical treatments for patients with spine problems and trauma. At Loyola, the spine surgeons are part of an integrated team of orthopaedic surgeons, neurologists and neurosurgeons, as well as pain management experts, radiologists, nurses, radiation oncologists, physical and occupational therapists and rehabilitation specialists.

Loyola offers a full range of spine surgery options, including some procedures not available at other medical centers:

  • Cervical and lumbar disk replacement (arthroplasty) — Removal of one of the disks that cushions the vertebrae (spinal bones) and replacement with an artificial disk.
     
  • Decompression surgery — Relieving the symptoms of compression in the spine. The term refers to several types of surgery, but lumbar decompression surgery (in the lower back) is the most common.
     
  • Diskectomy or microdiskectomy — Removing all or part of one of the cushions that protect your spinal column; used when a disk herniates and puts pressure on the spinal cord or one of the nerves that come from it.
     
  • Foraminotomy — Widening one of the openings in your spinal column where nerve roots leave the spinal canal.
     
  • Kyphoplasty — Using a balloon to inflate a section of a vertebra and fortifying it with cement. Used for spinal compression fractures.
     
  • Laminotomy/laminectomy — Removing all or part of the lamina, the rear part of the vertebrae (spinal bones).
     
  • Lumbar microdiskectomy — Using a special microscope to remove part of a cushion that separates and protects the vertebrae in your lower back.
     
  • Removal of cancer lesions — A common treatment for tumors or lesions in the spine. It often accompanies other treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
     
  • Spinal fusion — Also called arthrodesis, permanently joining together two or more vertebrae; often done after a procedure for spinal stenosis or after a diskectomy in the neck.
     
  • Spinal reconstruction — Straightening the spine due to spinal curvature problems or scoliosis.
     
  • Vertebroplasty — Like a kyphoplasty, this uses a bone cement to fortify a compressed vertebrae. 

Why Choose Loyola for Spine Surgery?

Loyola’s use of minimally invasive, computer-assisted spinal fusion has launched a new era in complex spine surgery. Our surgeons have expanded this program using new surgical technology. Loyola uses computer-assisted X-ray technology (spinal angiogram) to see your spine during surgery. By making only small incisions, Loyola’s surgeons can decompress spinal disks or implant instruments—such as screws and rods—to stabilize your spine. This minimally invasive approach improves patient outcomes and shortens your hospital stay.

What Diseases are Treated with Spine Surgery?

Your Loyola doctor will discuss the option of spine surgery if you have serious pain, limited mobility or a life-threatening problem such as cancer. Surgery often is considered after more conservative efforts have failed. Some of the problems that can be corrected with spine surgery include:

What to Expect during Spine Surgery

At Loyola, your spinal surgery will take place in the hospital under local anesthesia—or, in a major back surgery, general anesthesia (in which you will be asleep for the entire procedure). Most procedures take a few hours to complete and depend on the complexity of your surgery. 

You will be able to walk after your surgery, although you will probably not be able to drive a car for a period of time afterward. Be sure to arrange for transportation to and from your surgery. You will also need to arrange for some help after you return home for activities like washing, dressing, cleaning, laundry and shopping. You may need this help for a few days up to a couple of weeks, depending on the type of surgery.

You will likely experience pain for the first few days after surgery, which can be controlled by pain medication prescribed by your doctor. It is normal to feel very tired as you heal. Patients who have spine straightening surgery will have limitations on activity for up to one year. Patients who have other procedures are usually able to resume light work after a few days or weeks.

At Loyola, you will receive support as you heal and resume your normal activities; physical therapists, occupational therapists, rehabilitation and pain management specialists are available to help you in your recovery. They will give you instructions on how to take care of your back and prevent future problems.  Learn more about orthopaedic rehabilitation.

What are the Risks of Spine Surgery?

With any surgery, there is risk of infection, vein thrombosis and blood clots. You also may experience back problems such as recurrent disk herniations. Your Loyola orthopaedics team will work to prevent any surgical complications. 

Let your doctor know if your pain level increases, if you have trouble walking or you notice swelling, bruising or discoloration at the surgery site.