Posts Tagged ‘spine surgery’

Spinal Tumor Symptoms & Treatment

Spinal TumorsTumors, whether cancerous (malignant tumors) or noncancerous (benign tumors), can develop and affect bones anywhere in the body, but when a tumor develops in or near your spinal cord or within the bones of your spine, it can be an especially serious condition.

Your spine is an extremely important part of your body as it holds up your head, shoulders and upper body. It also houses and protects your spinal cord and the nerve roots that control your arms, legs, and torso. The spine is made up of 31 small bones, called vertebrae, which are stacked on top of one another and make up the three sections of your spine (cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine) forming the natural curves of your back.

Your spinal cord runs through the middle part of the vertebra, which is called the spinal canal, and extends from the skull to the lower back. Spinal nerves branch out from the spinal cord through openings in the vertebrae, carrying signals between the brain and muscles.

The most common type of spinal tumor is one that spreads (a metastasis) from cancer arising in another part of the body, such as the breast, lung, kidney, prostate, thyroid, blood cells, or other tissues. Rarely, spinal tumors arise from the nerves of the spinal cord itself. Primary spinal tumors are those that arise from the bones in the spine – these are also relatively rare.

The closeness of a tumor to the spine and nerves that run through and between your vertebrae determines the severity of the condition. Tumors can compress and interfere with nerve function, affecting the messages being sent to and from your brain to the rest of your body. Since the spinal cord is relatively narrow, tumors within it may cause symptoms on both sides of the body. Tumors can also weaken the vertebrae, causing the spine to collapse and potentially cause pain or injure the nerves housed within.

Spinal tumors are different for each unique patient since they originate from different areas or develop from different cell types. Depending on where the tumor is, how advanced it is, how quickly it is growing and whether it is malignant or benign, symptoms and treatment options vary.

Common symptoms of spinal tumors include:

  • Pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of sensation or numbness (in the legs, arms or trunk)
  • Loss of bladder/ bowel control
  • Difficulty using arms or legs, inability to walk

Treatment for spinal tumors is determined on a case by case basis and may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or other medications. If surgery is necessary, the goals are to stabilize the spinal column, relieve nerve pressure caused by the tumor, protect the nerves and spinal cord and remove as much of the tumor as safely possible.

For more information about spinal tumors and spine tumor treatment, visit Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. Our world renowned, highly skilled, specialized and experienced team includes orthopedic spine surgeons, neurosurgeons, orthopedic oncologists and radiologists, all working together to diagnose and treat a wide range of spinal tumors.

About Dr. Rhee

John Rhee, MDJohn M. Rhee, MD, is a Spinal Surgeon and Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery specializing in cervical spine surgery, lumbar spine surgery, complex spinal deformity surgery (scoliosis and kyphosis) and surgery for spinal tumors. Dr. Rhee is an active researcher and sought-after teacher/lecturer at the national and international level in multiple medical societies. He has served as faculty and been an invited lecturer at numerous meetings and courses on spine surgery. In addition, he has served as Program Chairman at numerous national and international spine surgery meetings. Dr. Rhee has also published extensively in a number of peer reviewed journals and books, and he has received numerous awards and honors. He is actively involved the training of international research scholars and other spinal surgeons and has been the author and editor of major textbooks on spine surgery techniques.

Related Resources

Patient Video Story: Back to Life after Spinal Tumor Surgery

“I’m a Medical Miracle!” : One Emory Spine Center Patient’s Experience

Andy ReynoldsBy Andy Reynolds, Emory Spine Center Patient 

In midsummer of 2010, my riding lawn mower flipped over and pinned me underneath. My back was broken in three parts. I had surgery to fuse and implant rods and screws. My pain never went away, so later I had the rods and screws removed in hopes of pain relief.

My pain worsened and more issues developed within the next four years. My nerves were damaged which lead to horrific pain, migraines, insomnia, and I developed Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. I could hardly make it through a day at work, I wore a brace and had seen about 16 different doctors before I was referred to a spine specialist. That spine specialist was my medical miracle doctor, Emory neurosurgeon, Dr. Gerald Rodts.

Dr. Rodts showed me a CT scan image of my spine and surprisingly revealed that my fracture was never repaired, and therefore, never properly healed. Dr. Rodts was in disbelief that I was not paralyzed since my back was still broken.

I had spine surgery November 24, 2014 at Emory University Hospital Midtown. During my surgery, Dr. Rodts worked his magic and reconstructed the damaged area of my spine so my nerves were no longer pinched.

Today, I don’t have a single issue left from my incident and my life has changed drastically. I went from enduring a multitude of health issues, including horrific pain, to being completely healthy and happy. Since my spine surgery, I can stand longer now, travel and go in the pool. I am able to participate in activities I enjoy like outdoor planting and am looking forward to yard work and even getting back on my lawn mower come Spring. I also cannot wait to get back to lifting weights at the gym.

When I look back at photos of me, I can see how bad of a shape I was in by the pained look on my face. My medical miracle would not have happened if it hadn’t been for Dr. Rodts and the spine team at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. Everyone was wonderful; it was like a five star experience.

A note from Dr. Gerald Rodts, Jr.

Andy had originally suffered a severe fracture of the lumbar vertebra, at a crucial transition area between his lower thoracic spine and upper lumbar spine. Despite having had surgery to stabilize the fracture, it ultimately never healed. It became a source of chronic, severe back pain. In order to fix the problem, the surgery required a different approach.

The surgery was done with cardiothoracic surgeon, Allen Pickens, MD. With the help of Dr. Pickens, an incision was made on the chest wall (flank) on the left side. A rib was removed, and the large diaphragm muscle disconnected from the spine. The fracture pieces of vertebra were removed, and the spine was rebuilt with a titanium fusion cage, rib bone graft, and two screws and a rod. The diaphragm muscle was reconnected, and the chest wall closed. This procedure renders the spine immediately strong and stable, and the area of the fracture then continues to strengthen as the bone graft heals.

To learn more about the wide range of spine conditions treated at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center in Atlanta, click here or call 404-778-3350.

About Dr. Rodts

Gerald Rodts, MDGerald E. Rodts, Jr., MD,  is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University School of Medicine. In addition, he is the Director of the Spine Fellowship Program in the Department of Neurosurgery at The Emory Spine Center and Chief of Neurosurgery Spine Service at The Emory Clinic.

Dr. Rodts graduated from Princeton University with a degree in biology and a Certificate of Study of Science in Human Affairs. He received his M.D. from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York and completed his neurosurgery residency training at the University of California in Los Angeles, followed by a 1-year fellowship in complex spinal neurosurgery at Emory University. Dr. Rodts has served as the President of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons as well as serving as the Secretary. He has also served as the Chairman of the AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves. He is also a founding editor of the award-winning website, Spine Universe. He has been selected as one of the Castle and Connelley’s “Top Doc” neurosurgeons in the United States ten years in a row and has received a similar distinction in Atlanta Magazine annually. He is a neurotrauma consultant to the National Football League.

Dr. Rodts manages patients with spinal disorders, and specializes in neoplastic, rheumatoid, degenerative, traumatic spinal disorders, syringomyelia and Chiari malformations. His research interests are in computer-assisted, image-guided surgery and minimally-invasive spinal techniques.

Areas of Clinical Interest:

  • Complex spine surgery and reconstruction
  • Computer-assisted image-guided spine surgery
  • Minimally-invasive spine surgery
  • Revision spinal surgery

Patient Video Story: Back to Life after Spinal Tumor Surgery

Spine Tumor Patient Story VideoDoug House is an Emory Spine Center patient who had a large spinal tumor. Doug was in pain for over 10 years and had several problems performing basic daily activities including walking, sleeping, and controlling his bladder. He thought he would live the rest of his life unable to perform basic life functions. Doug was referred to our team at the Emory Spine Center and now is back to his old self and able to enjoy life again.

Watch Doug’s incredible story in the video below and learn more from Emory physicians Dr. Gerald (Rusty) Rodts and Dr. Daniel Refai on what makes spinal tumor treatment at Emory different.

Advancing the Possibilities in Orthopedic, Sports Medicine & Spine Care

Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital AtlantaEmory Healthcare is known for its strong focus on patients and families, as well as its sharp attention to detail in Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine and Spine Care. At Emory, we have the most highly trained orthopaedic and spine specialists in the country working together to diagnose and treat a wide variety of orthopaedic, spine and sports medicine conditions. Our physicians use innovative approaches to care – many of them pioneered via research right here at Emory – to ease your pain and get you back to the life you love. We bring all aspects of musculoskeletal diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation together in one location – from state-of-the-art CT and MRI to a world-class outpatient surgery center and physical therapy suite– at the Emory University Orthopaedics and Spine Hospital (EUOSH).

Many of our musculoskeletal inpatient procedures occur at EUOSH, which is unlike any other facility in Georgia. When planning for this hospital, doctors, nurses and patients presented their wish lists, and we worked tirelessly to bring our patients the care that set the standards and raises the bar higher than ever. The hospital has been completely renovated to provide our orthopaedic, spine and sports medicine patients with access to exceptional service and the most advanced, sophisticated technology tailored specifically to their unique needs. The combination of our unique facility amenities at EUOSH and our team’s dedication to truly patient- and family-centered care allow us to provide an unparalleled level of musculoskeletal care to the Atlanta and Georgia communities. Find out more in the video below:

We pride ourselves on being uniquely focused on patient satisfaction and comfort. In fact, we call upon 75 various patient committees and have adopted listening practices to ensure that we fully understand the needs of the patient. Further, we make it a point to avoid being married to any sort of protocol; for example, there’s no limit on patient visiting hours, and family members are welcome to sit with patients right up until the time of surgery.

Our efforts have not gone unnoticed—we’re proud to say that we have over a 90% satisfaction rate among our patients. Every room is equipped with everything a patient could possibly need for a comfortable recovery, including an interactive television that offers hospital information, a “my education” feature, access to the patient’s chart, health notes, and of course, regular TV channels and movie options.

Emory truly strives to exceed patient expectations every day. Learn more about our Orthopaedic, Spine and Sports Medicine care by watching this short video.

Minimally Invasive XLIF Spine Surgery Can Speed Recovery Time

Dr. Tim Yoon, spine surgeonDr. Jim Rothermel, a retired ob/gyn, had been living with back and leg pain for more than three years. He was told that he needed extensive open spinal surgery. However, he came to the Emory Spine Center for another opinion and met with Dr. Tim Yoon, an internationally recognized spine surgeon and expert in minimally invasive techniques. Dr. Yoon diagnosed Jim with stenosis and scoliosis. His condition would typically require complex open spinal surgery, but Dr. Yoon determined that using a less invasive method, the XLIF technique, would reduce the stress on his body and reduce recovery time.

XLIF (eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion) is an approach to spinal surgery in which the spine surgeon accesses the intevertebral disc space and fuses the lumbar spine from the side rather than from the front or the back. By going through the side of the body with a small incision rather than through a large abdominal incision, much less soft tissue is traumatized, resulting in a faster recovery. XLIF may be an option for patients who have scoliosis, spondylolisthesis (where the vertebrae have slid in relation to one another), or spinal stenosis. These diagnoses typically causes leg pain and back pain.  When XLIF is used to perform a simple one-level fusion surgery, the patient often is able to go home the next day.

The XLIF technique can also be used to access multiple different discs and may be combined with other procedures, such as minimally invasive screws, to handle more complex cases, like Jim’s. This less-invasive approach can make surgery an option for people who, in the past, might not have been chosen surgery because of the prolonged recovery time or because the doctors thought the surgery was too invasive for a frail patient. Therefore, XLIF allows surgeons to treat more spinal conditions and different types of patients.

Emory spine surgeons have extensive experience performing a wide variety of spine surgeries. They know when the minimally invasive approach won’t be effective or should be combined with a bigger surgery. “Not everybody is going to be best treated by an XLIF, but I know who will be, and I choose those people,” Dr. Yoon says. “That way, you maximize the best results and minimize any likelihood of complications.”

Jim and his wife, Midge, couldn’t be happier with Dr. Yoon and their experience at the Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital. Jim says, “Dr. Yoon spent quality time with me. He thought he could do this XLIF procedure with a three-level fusion. He explained it in detail and then referred me to a website. I looked at the procedure carefully and thought it sounded like the proper way to go about doing it. He scheduled the surgery for two stages. We did the XLIF on a Monday, and he was able to do it in a manner that wasn’t muscle cutting. The recovery time was markedly improved.” Three days later, Dr. Yoon performed the second stage of the surgery, and a few days after that, Jim went home.

“Jim was extremely uncomfortable for over three years, and to see the difference in him now is just an absolute miracle. He’s happy. He’s always been a big teaser and silly, and I’ve got him back again,” Midge says.Have you had XLIF spine surgery, or would you like to learn more about spine surgery at Emory? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

 

Collapsed Disc Spine Patient Races to Recovery

For years, triathlete Denise Novicki suffered from excruciating spinal pain in her lower back. Founder of Tri2Remember, a triathlon club that raises money to fight Alzheimer’s disease, Denise had always led an active lifestyle, but her back pain made it difficult, if not impossible, to enjoy her favorite pastime.

“I was in such immense pain that I was looking for some very trusted resources to manage my pain,” Denise says. She chose the Emory Spine Center at the Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital for assessment and a solution.

“What we’ve tried to do here at the Emory Spine Center is take the worry and the guessing out of a spine or back problem,” says Dr. Scott Boden (pictured left), director of the Center. “When people come here, we help them figure out what’s wrong and give them lots of different options.”

Before the spine doctors at the Emory Spine Center suggest surgery, they investigate all possible nonsurgical interventions, but they also know that, in some cases, a simple surgery may make the difference between experiencing debilitating pain and living pain free.

To find out the cause of her back pain, Denise met with spine surgeon Dr. John Heller, who discovered that she had a collapsed disc. It was clear to Dr. Heller that surgery would bring Denise relief and allow her to get her life back. “Denise came to us seeking advice on how to improve back pain that had really gotten in the way of her normal lifestyle,” says Dr. Heller. “She was an avid athlete and was having tremendous difficulty maintaining a training regiment, let alone a normal, everyday life.”

Before her spine surgery, Denise signed up for an upcoming Ironman distance race. She wanted to be sure she had a goal in place that would help her stay focused on recovery. She achieved her goal. “Coming into doing the Ironman, I had a different perspective than probably most athletes do, because I came to the table with thankfulness that I am actually able to compete. I did what I set out to do, and I couldn’t have done it without the team at Emory.” To learn more about Denise’s experience with spine surgery at Emory, check out the short video below:

Dr. Boden says, “The thing I love about taking care of patients with spine problems is that we have a real opportunity to help patients get their lives back, and that’s a very special thing.”

Dr. Scott BodenThe spine doctors at the Emory Spine Center are dedicated to excellent spine care. “Some places, people are part-time spine and part-time hips and knees, but what’s unique about our group is that everybody primarily focuses on taking care of patients with spine problems, teaching trainees who are learning about the spine, and doing research to try and explore new and better ways to treat spinal problems,” says Dr. Boden (pictured left). “If you end up coming to Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital, you’ll leave saying that you’ve never been in a hospital that’s anything like it.”

Have you had spinal surgery at the Emory Spine Center? We’d like to hear about your experience. Please take a moment to give us feedback in the comments section below.

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3 Cervical Spine Procedures that Reduce Recovery Times

John G. Heller, MDWhen people think about neck conditions requiring surgery, they usually think about cervical spine injuries. We’ve all seen those tense moments during football or other sports when a player is injured and lies motionless on the field. A dramatic example comes from a Boston Celtics basketball game back in February, when Marquis Daniels bumped into another player and then fell motionless to the floor.

Fortunately, these events are rare. Most cervical spine surgery is needed because of wear and tear that affects your discs over time. In younger adults, this tends to be a herniated disc, which compresses the nerve roots or spinal cord. And, as we age, we all develop bone spurs to varying degrees (the “gray hair of the neck”). These spurs can be a source of nerve root or spinal cord compression, as well.

Cervical spine procedures are typically performed through the front of the neck, or anteriorly. In the United States, the primary surgical technique for the past 50 years has been the anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). Since bone spurs form at the margins of the discs as they degenerate, these operations involve a discectomy, or the removal of the entire cervical disc, plus any bone spurs that border the discs.

Over the last two decades, spine surgeons at Emory have been leading the way in performing several innovative cervical spine procedures: laminoforaminotomy, artificial cervical disc, and laminoplasty. These procedures are performed from the back, or posteriorly, and don’t require a spinal fusion, thereby allowing patients to retain range of motion in the neck and also get back to their normal activities more quickly.

How do surgeons at Emory determine if one of these procedures might be right for you?

The first, laminoforaminotomy, is reserved for disc herniations that sit far enough to the side of the spinal canal that they do not compress the spinal cord. This procedure has been performed for many years, but new technology is allowing it to now be done using a minimally invasive microsurgical technique.

The second, for patients who meet the right selection criteria, is an artificial cervical disc, which may be inserted in place of the traditional bone graft with a plate and screws. This artificial disc is a moving part that’s ready for use when the patient wakes from anesthesia. Essentially, this procedure is a “get up and go” operation that avoids most of the limitations we traditionally impose on fusion patients while they heal. The artificial cervical disc is a ground-breaking option that has been very successful in clinical trials, many of which took place at Emory. Like any novel technology, longer term follow-up is needed to fully assess the risks and benefits of artificial cervical discs. But the data thus far are quite promising.

The third procedure, laminoplasty, is most often used in patients who are older and have three or more levels of spinal cord compression that would usually take three or four fusions. During this procedure, which is performed from the back of the neck, the roof of the spinal canal is re-shaped to provide more room for the spinal cord without the need for fusion. A mini-plate device, developed by surgeons at Emory Spine Center, is used during this procedure – allowing patients to move their necks right away after surgery, speeding up rehabilitation.

If you have been told you need cervical spine surgery, I would encourage you to contact the Emory Spine Center for an appointment to learn more about these innovative procedures.

Have you had or are you going to have cervical spine surgery? We’d like to hear about your experience. Please take a moment to give us feedback in the comments section below.

About John G. Heller, MD:
John G. Heller, MD, Baur Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and spine fellowship director, specializes in the research and development of instrumentation in cervical spine surgery, including disc arthroplasty and laminoplasty plates. He is the past-president of the Cervical Spine Research Society. Dr. Heller started practicing at Emory in 1989.

As an Academic Medical Center, Emory Provides Superior Spine Care

Dr. Scott BodenI am often asked questions like “Will YOU actually be doing my surgery?” and “Does a teaching hospital mean someone will be practicing surgery on my back?” These questions made me realize that many patients don’t understand what it means to receive care in an academic medical center, so I thought I would try to explain this in more detail.

Most of the differences in a true academic medical center, especially for a spine center, represent benefits that the patient may not even realize. First, to be a physician at an academic medical center, the surgeon also must be a professor, usually in a School of Medicine. As part of the medical school faculty, these physicians, in addition to taking care of patients, are teaching surgical techniques to the future generation of surgeons and/or performing research that is allowing for new discoveries and advancements in the field. This means that patients are exposed to the latest advances in surgical techniques and technology.

In addition, because of the teaching process, the patient will likely have a second MD assisting (helping retract and hold tissues), rather than just one surgeon and a nurse or surgical assistant. I would liken it to a pilot and co-pilot flying an airplane. Spine surgery is serious business, with little room for error, so you can rest assured that at any reputable academic center (such as Emory), the key portions of the surgery will be performed by your surgeon.

A second benefit comes from the collaborative environment in a multidisciplinary spine center. At the Emory Spine Center, one of the largest in the U.S., there are physical medicine/rehabilitation, occupational medicine, psychology, orthopaedic surgery, and neurological surgery physicians all seeing patients side by side every day. This spectrum of physicians ensures that no matter what a patient’s spine problem may be, he or she is sure to find a true expert among the staff. This environment takes the worry away from the patient about which type of specialist to see.

All of the surgical and nonsurgical physicians working at the Emory Spine Center have been fellowship trained (which means they’ve received extra training to specialize in spine care) and spend the majority of their clinical practice diagnosing and treating only patients with spine problems. This level of sub-specialization is harder to find outside an academic center. In addition, academic medical centers usually have the resources to have the latest and highest quality imaging technology—which is also very helpful in spine care.

A third benefit comes from the fact that some of the toughest cases are referred to academic centers. As a result, these physicians have more experience with the toughest problems and rarest complications, so that in the unlikely event you do experience a complication, they are very comfortable diagnosing and managing it to minimize any long-term impact on your outcome.

Most of these and other advantages of an academic medical center typically go on behind the scenes, which is probably why so few people truly understand the difference.

How have you benefitted from spine treatment in an academic medical center? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

About Dr. Boden
Scott D. Boden, MD, Director of the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, is an internationally renowned surgeon, lecturer, and teacher and the driving force behind the Emory University Orthopedics and Spine Hospital (EUOSH). Dr. Boden started practicing at Emory in 1992.

Ironman Triathlete Back on Track after Lumbar Laminectomy

Dr. Tim YoonWhen it comes to spinal disorders, there’s good news for the weekend warrior who enjoys vigorous athletic training and competitive sports activities. Being in great physical shape plays a large role both in your recovery and getting you back to an active lifestyle.

Joann Pope, one of my current patients, has an impressive athletic resume. She completed the half Ironman in Panama City, Florida, 21 times straight. She qualified for the world-famous Hawaiian Ironman seven times and finished four times. But two years ago, at the age of 74, her back started hurting and she had to stop racing due to lumbar spinal stenosis.

Lumbar spinal stenosis is a degenerative condition that causes a narrowing of the spinal column in the lower back, known as the lumbar area. This narrowing occurs when the growth of bone or tissue or both reduces the size of the openings in the spinal bones. This narrowing can squeeze and irritate the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord. It can also squeeze and irritate the spinal cord itself, causing pain, numbness, or weakness, most often in the legs, feet, and buttocks.

You might think that the physical stress of being a triathlete took its toll on Joann’s back, but that isn’t the case. In fact, if she hadn’t been in such great shape, her spine might have begun degenerating long before it did. For more than 20 years, Joann has been running, biking, and swimming. She was 47 when she started running, back in 1984. After she ran the Boston Marathon, her daughter talked her into doing a triathlon, the ultimate endurance test – a grueling three-part race with no stops.

So, thanks to her level of fitness, it’s as if Joann has the body of someone 20 years younger. Despite her active lifestyle , the lumbar stenosis progressed, and Joann’s pain, which came on slowly, continued to get worse.

Before Joann came to see me, she’d been experiencing lower back pain for a year. To address it, she’d been taking pain pills twice a day and was undergoing physical therapy, the first line of defense for lumbar stenosis. But when therapy didn’t ease her pain, her physical therapist told her she needed to see a surgeon. She chose to come to the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center.

In July of 2010, I performed a lumbar laminectomy and fusion on Joann. This procedure, also called a decompression, relieves pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerve by widening the spinal canal. In Joann’s case, I removed the portion of the bony roof of the spine, or lamina, that was pressing on her lumbar nerves. Then I fused the two lowest lumbar vertebra, L4 and L5, with screws. When she woke up, the pain she had before surgery was gone.

Because Joann had been in such great physical shape before the surgery, she recovered rapidly and was swimming and walking again quickly. Now she’s walking two miles a day and is working up to getting back on her bike. Joann remains pain free and plans to go back to racing.

Have you had a lumbar laminectomy, or would you like to learn how spine surgery at Emory can get you back to the active life you enjoy? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

About S. Tim Yoon, MD:
S. Tim Yoon, MD, PhD, specializes in minimally invasive surgery and cervical spine surgery. He is board certified in orthopedic surgery. Dr. Yoon started practicing at Emory in 2000.

Outpatient Spine Surgery? You Bet!

Dr. Tim YoonMany people have misconceptions about spinal surgery. They think spinal surgery has to be a big operation or that the recovery time after surgery has to be long. The truth is that there’s a common spinal surgery we perform as an outpatient procedure here at Emory, and with it we get great results. It’s called a lumbar microdiscectomy.

A lumbar microdiscectomy may be right for you if:

  • You have leg or foot pain, weakness, or numbness.
  • You’ve tried epidural steroid injections and they just don’t work.
  • An MRI has shown that you have a disc herniation that needs surgery.

What happens during a lumbar microdiscectomy? A lumbar microdiscectomy takes an hour or less of surgical time. In most cases, you can go home the same day you have surgery—usually within a few hours after the procedure. During the procedure, your surgeon removes the small portion of the disc that has herniated (protruded) and is compressing the nerve root to relieve the neural impingement causing your pain or weakness.

Lumbar MicrodiscectomyTo reduce surgery and recovery time, we use minimally invasive techniques, including:

  • anesthesia designed for outpatient surgery
  • x-ray guidance to make the most ideal incision
  • the smallest incision possible
  • a powerful microscope for better visualization through that small incision

After the surgery, you’ll be able to walk and do non-strenuous activities right away.

Our success rate at Emory for a lumbar microdiscectomy is very high, with patients often experiencing complete relief of pre-operative leg pain immediately after surgery.

Have you had a lumbar microdiscectomy, or would you like to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery at Emory? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

S. Tim Yoon, MD, PhD, specializes in minimally invasive surgery and is assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and chief of Orthopedics at the Veterans Administration Medical Center at Atlanta. He is board certified in orthopedic surgery. Dr. Yoon started practicing at Emory in 2000.