Surgery is a last resort in the conventional treatment of back pain. It will only be considered if all other forms of treatment have failed. The results of surgery can never be guaranteed.
Surgery today is very safe. Nevertheless, there are certain risks associated with any operation, including the possibility of an adverse reaction to the anesthetic, the risk of a blood clot lodging in the lungs or the brain, an increased of chest infection and hemorrhage, sudden blood loss, which occasionally requires a blood transfusion.
In addition, with back surgery there is always the possibility of damage to the spinal cord, which can result in paralysis. The chances of any of these complications occurring are remote. For example, the chance of damage to the spinal cord and nerves as a result of a spinal operation is about one in five thousand. But the risks must be weighed in the balance when a decision is made to refer anyone for surgery.
Fears about an operation should be talked through with your doctor and the surgeon. You should not feel pressurized and should only agree to go ahead with the operation if you feel satisfied that the potential benefits significantly outweigh the risks. A sympathetic doctor will support you in your cautious approach.
No surgeon, however skilled, can guarantee that an operation will be successful and it is important to have realistic expectations of the outcome. The back is a complex structure and by the time you eventually undergo surgery, the original problem may have thrown other areas out of balance and caused them to become strained and painful in their turn.
Surgery To Straighten The Spine – scoliosis surgery
Sometimes surgery is necessary for scoliosis, curvature of the spine. In the vast majority of cases of scoliosis the curve is so slight that no treatment is required but in severe cases, such as when the condition begins in childhood, action is often needed to prevent the condition worsening and causing serious deformity.
There are several surgical methods used to treat this sort of scoliosis. The most common technique uses a telescopic metal rod, known as a Harrington Rod. The surgeon makes an incision through the skin, muscle and ligaments and exposes the spine along the whole length of the curve. The Harrington rod is then positioned and fixed along the concave side of the spine and telescoped out to straighten the curve. Pieces of bone taken from the hips or pelvis are then grafted across the vertebrae of the curved section to lock it straight and rigid.
Another method involves removing the vertebral discs in the curved part of the spine. Holes are then drilled through the vertebrae. Bolts are slotted through these holes and attached to a steel cable which runs down the convex side of the curving spine. The cable is then tightened up, pulling the spine straight.
Although surgical procedures for scoliosis result in a very rigid back, they are usually successful at preventing serious deformity as a child suffering from the condition grows up.