Spine reconstruction surgery is a specialized form of surgery performed by exclusively trained surgeons who have extensive knowledge of disorders and conditions associated with the spinal column and spinal cord. Over the years spine reconstruction techniques have advanced and presently the techniques involve the use of cutting edge technologies. Usually patients with major deformity or misalignment of the spine require complex spinal reconstruction surgery involving correction of the abnormal curvature and stabilizing the newly shaped spine with rods and pins and fusion of vertebrae.
Often the spinal disorder patient experiences pain, numbness, loss of strength or a feeling of pins and needles in the affected or surrounding area. An X-ray or CT scan may be useful to detect the source and severity of the disorder.
The spine is an extensive structure that extends from the base of the skull to the pelvis. The spine is made up of 33 vertebral bones and each pair of vertebrae has a fibrocartilagenous disc or intervertebral disc between them that cushions the vertebrae during movement. The major role of the spinal column is to cover and protect the spinal cord that contains a column of nerve tracts extending from every part of the body to the brain. The spinal column also functions to support the trunk of the body and the head.
The vertebral spinal column is made up of four segments- cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral. The cervical segment is made up of seven cervical vertebras; thoracic spine consists of twelve vertebrae that support the rib cage; lumbar segment consists of five vertebrae that carry most of the body weight and sacral spine is the fusion of five bones that forms the tail end of the spinal column. The entire spinal column is surrounded by strong ligaments and muscles that provide stability as well as mobility to the spine.
Indications for reconstructive spine surgery may include injury, trauma or infection to the spine, scoliosis congenital abnormalities, presence of metastatic or primary tumors, vascular malformation or axial skeleton pain etc. Surgery is considered after conservative treatment measures have been tried without success.
The surgical procedure of spine reconstruction usually involves spinal fusion surgery.
Spinal fusion involves removal of the intervertebral disc between two affected vertebraes and binding the vertebrae together. The fusion of the vertebrae eliminates the motion and reduces the pain.
In this procedure the surgeon removes the affected disc between two vertebras and inserts bone graft into the disc space between the vertebral bodies to stimulate bone growth and support the disc space. Once the new bone forms, the vertebras are fused together and will limit movement of the fused segments. Sometimes the surgeon may use spinal instrumentation such as metal plates and screws within the spine to fix the vertebral bones together. The choice of instrumentation depends on certain factors such as patient age, underlying problem being treated, the number of levels of the spine as well as other factors.
Recovery following reconstructive spine surgery differs from individual to individual. The duration of healing mostly depends on the type of treatment and the health of the patient. It is advisable to follow the instructions of the surgeon for the best recovery. Following the surgery, physical and occupational therapy will be recommended to improve daily living activities and evaluate the post-surgical progression of the patient.