Scoliosis Surgery & Spine Deformity Surgery for Patients in New Jersey
Using the most advanced surgical techniques, Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics (CNSO) has built a reputation for corrective surgery on patients with scoliosis as well as all other spinal deformities. CNSO first considers whether a conservative approach to treatment is possible. The CNSO neurosurgeons will only recommend surgery when alternatives such as physical therapy and pain management have proved insufficient or neurological elements are at risk of permanent damage. Learn more about scoliosis surgery and spine deformity surgery in New Jersey at CNSO.
Types of Spinal Deformity
There are many types of spinal deformities, which can be caused by injuries, genetic conditions, or are the natural progression of the aging process. The most common conditions that are considered a spinal deformity and are treated at CNSO include:
This condition occurs when a patient’s spine is abnormally curved laterally (left to right) as opposed to longitudinally (forward and backward). Adolescent scoliosis is hereditary and is a prevalent type of spinal deformity among children. A child’s routine annual physical will screen for scoliosis and it is generally discovered at the time of puberty. Most cases are mild and many children do not experience any symptoms. Those who do have symptoms may respond to conservative care. But if the symptoms interfere with exercise, comfort, or breathing, surgery most likely will be necessary and is curative.
Adult scoliosis typically occurs after age 60 as the spine degenerates because of conditions like arthritis. When arthritis occurs in the spine, it is called spondylosis. In both adolescents and adults, scoliosis may be mild or severe depending on the degree of spinal curvature. Adults with more severe scoliosis may experience back pain or disfigurement and are more likely to require surgery for a cure
Kyphosis is a condition characterized by a forward bend in the spine. This type of curvature of the spine is considered a longitudinal curvature. A healthy spine has some natural longitudinal curvature in the cervical area, thoracic area, and lumbar area. Within the thoracic region is where there is a normal degree of kyphosis which is visible as forward curvature. When a forward curvature of more than 40 degrees occurs in the thoracic region, it is classified as abnormal thoracic kyphosis. Kyphosis can be caused by a birth defect, spinal injury, cancer, or osteoporosis. Because patients with an abnormal degree of kyphosis have a spine that is placing significant abnormal forces on the adjacent segments, patients may experience symptoms such as:
- Neck or back pain
- Muscle fatigue
- Muscle spasms
- Shortness of breath caused by pressure on the airways
Patients with kyphosis will visually have a hunched back or rounded shoulders. An image will be very valuable to measure the degree of curvature and assist with surgical planning if necessary.
Spondylolisthesis is a condition caused by weak joints and ligaments in the spine in which the spinal vertebrae slip out of alignment. Symptoms can include:
- Neck or back pain
- Weakness in the arms or hands
- Radiating pain in the legs
- Muscle stiffness in the hamstrings or buttocks
Some people experience no symptoms, and may never even realize they have spondylolisthesis. The other scenario is that patients may have an unstable spine because of the slipping back and forth caused by the spondylolisthesis. This requires emergency surgery in order to prevent the spondylolisthesis from causing permanent paralysis from compressing or severing the spinal cord. Spondylolisthesis may result from genetics, from overextending the spine, or from high impact trauma such as a sporting event or a motor vehicle accident.
Though not typically considered a spine deformity, spondylosis is arthritis of the spine and can include degenerative disc disease as well as degenerative spine disease. Both can cause a deformity of the spine. Spondylosis occurs as patients age and lose elasticity in the soft tissues of their spine or because of trauma, a sports injury, or a high impact accident. Symptoms can include:
- Loss of balance
- Loss of control of the bladder or bowels
- Muscle spasms
- Nausea or vertigo
- Popping or grinding sensations when walking
- Stiffness, tingling, or numbness
These symptoms can vary in severity, and some patients with spondylosis do not have any symptoms at all.
Diagnosing Spinal Deformities
To diagnose a patient with spinal deformity and rule out other potential causes of back pain, the medical team at CNSO will review a patient’s complete medical history, document their experience of symptoms, and perform a physical examination. Medical imaging may also help with determining a diagnosis and can include:
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
After diagnosing a patient, a CNSO spine surgeon will share information about the patient’s spinal condition, all possible treatment options, and CNSO’s recommended course of treatment. Some spinal deformities can be managed with conservative treatments such as physical therapy or a corrective back brace, and do not require surgery.
Surgical Treatment and Recovery
CNSO is home to a board-certified team of neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons who are experienced in treating a wide range of spinal deformities. If conservative care options have been exhausted, CNSO’s medical team will recommend surgery if they believe it is in the patient’s best interest and will significantly improve the patient’s condition. Surgical treatment options can include a laminectomy or spinal fusion.
A laminectomy is a routine type of surgery that alleviates pressure on the spine. Lamina is the term used to describe a specific section of the vertebral bone. During a laminectomy, the surgeon will remove a portion of one or more lamina. Removing the problematic lamina will release pressure on the compressed neural elements such as the spinal cord and its branching nerves. This will alleviate the patient’s back or neck pain. By removing the pressure off these neural structures, the patient will be able to increase their range of motion and will be able to regain their strength. This procedure can take one to two hours if only one to two levels require surgery. The patient will be safely placed under general anesthesia before and throughout the procedure. Many patients can go home the same day.
Spinal fusion surgery can be a minimally invasive procedure to help restore correct alignment to the vertebrae. In this type of surgery, damaged bone or discs can be partially or completely removed and a bone graft is used to fuse the adjacent vertebral bones together in order to provide maximal stability of the spinal construct. Bone graft prosthetic can be made of any of the following:
- Carbon fiber
The prosthetic helps the patient maintain correct spinal alignment and height.
Some spinal fusion procedures can be performed in an outpatient setting. The length of the procedure depends on the number of levels of the spine fusion required. The number of levels depends on the patient’s symptoms, and the severity of the patient’s spinal deformity. Recovery times will also depend on the number of fused levels but many patients will need to avoid bending or twisting their spine, as well as lifting heavy objects, for several weeks afterward.
Typically, structured physical therapy is recommended after surgery to help patients regain strength in their muscles and ligaments and maintain or improve their range of motion.
Get Comprehensive Spine Care at CNSO
Patients who need treatment for a spinal deformity can find compassionate, expert care at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics. With multiple centers conveniently located across Northern NJ, CNSO offers comprehensive care for spine and back conditions. CNSO’s team of surgeons, pain management doctors, physiatrists, physical therapists, and support staff work in harmony to ensure each patient receives the highest level of care. For more information about spine deformity surgery, contact CNSO today.