Spinal surgery sits at the interface between neurosurgery and orthopaedic surgery. It is concerned in particular with the treatment of diseases of the spine, such as traumas, deformities and deviations, tumours and degenerative diseases (for example osteoarthritis).
What is spinal surgery?
Surgery of the spine deals with various disorders affecting the back. This encompasses the bone structures of the spine and the nerves in the bone marrow.
What types of patients visit a spine surgeon?
Patients in the spinal surgery department either have congenital deformities or disorders affecting the back that have developed over the years. Inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or even tumours can damage the spine. Degenerative processes such as vertebral arthritis or age-related weakening of the discs can cause back pain. With increasing age, we see other complaints such as fractures caused by the weakening of the bones (osteoporosis). If the structures of the back are damaged, this is also treated. Curvature (scoliosis) of the spine and slipped discs are also encountered in this department.
What symptoms do patients with back problems have?
Back pain most often occurs in the area of the lumbar spine. Pain in the neck (cervical spine) may also make it necessary to visit a spine surgeon. In the case of severe and pronounced back pain, this may result in tingling sensations, muscle weakness or even paralysis in the upper or lower limbs.
Which treatments are carried out in the spinal surgery department?
There is an extensive range of treatments. The following conditions of the spine are treated most frequently:
- Slipped disc
- Slipping of the vertebra (spondylolisthesis)
- Spinal canal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
The following are the surgical techniques that are used on the back:
- Microsurgical intervention: A microscope magnifies details within the body during surgery.
- Minimally invasive procedure: Instruments are inserted through small incisions in the skin.
- Open surgery on the back: For more complex procedures, the spine is exposed through a large incision in the skin.
Risks: As a general anaesthetic is required, this has a greater impact on the circulation.
- Insertion of an artificial disc: Replacement of the intervertebral disc with a prosthesis.
- Spinal fusion: A section of the spine is reinforced using metal plates and screws.
Risks: With minimally invasive procedures, the wounds are much smaller compared to open surgery. The pain after the operation is therefore less intense and the wounds heal more quickly. It is possible that, during surgical procedures on the spine, nerves, surrounding bone structures or organs in the vicinity of the operation site may be damaged. As with any surgery, potential risks can include bleeding, abnormal healing of the wound or infections.
Anaesthesia: a general anaesthetic is generally recommended for back operations.
Preparation for treatment in the spinal surgery department
Patients come to the hospital the day before and have to have an empty stomach for the operation. Blood levels and blood pressure are monitored. Medication that thins the blood is stopped in advance of the operation.
Postoperative care in the spinal surgery department
What happens after the operation depends on the type of procedure selected. Patients spend the first few days in the clinic. After a short time, they can stand up for the first time. Following their stay in the hospital, patients then either go straight home or go on to a rehabilitation clinic. The patients should take it easy to start off with. Once their wounds have healed, the process of rehabilitation can start. The ultimate goal is to be able to resume full physical activities.
Clinique Valmont offers successful rehabilitation programmes for patients recovering from back and spinal surgery. The clinic delivers first-class medical care and treatment in an idyllic setting with stunning views of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
Swiss Medical Network patients can enjoy exclusive benefits during their rehabilitation programme at Clinique Valmont.
The clinic has partnered with all supplementary health insurance providers.
Why should you choose Swiss Medical Network for your spinal surgery?
In the Swiss Medical Network, the close and interdisciplinary collaboration of all medical and paramedical disciplines is of central importance and creates the best possible conditions for a rapid and complete assessment of the patient’s suffering and the elimination of this. The focus is on the human body and the latest surgical techniques make it easier to manage spinal conditions.
When is spinal surgery required?
In the majority of cases, back pain is treated without surgery. Physiotherapy and pain management can generally help with this. If a patient nevertheless experiences sensory disturbances or even paralysis and loses control of their bladder, this is an emergency and requires an immediate consultation with their doctor or at the hospital.
How is spinal surgery carried out?
The surgeon selects the surgical method based on the symptoms. Minor operations are carried out as minimally invasive procedures, while major corrections require open surgery.
How long do patients stay in the hospital after a back operation?
The length of the hospital stay depends on the type of operation and how the patient’s healing progresses. The majority of patients spend a maximum of five days in the hospital, after which they can go home or go on to a rehabilitation clinic.
What do I need to be aware of following an operation in the spine department?
You should not carry any heavy loads during the first few weeks. The muscles will be built up again in physiotherapy. It takes time for wounds to heal. Patients regain full use of their backs after around six months.
Does all pain go away after a back operation?
An operation is no guarantee of a life free from pain. The surgeon will weigh up whether it is worth operating. Intervention makes sense if there is a chance that it will improve the symptoms.