How Is A Spinal Decompression Performed?
During a decompression procedure, your surgeon typically will, depending on the specific procedure:
- Make an incision over the vertebra(e) to be treated.
- Gently pull aside soft tissue – skin, fat and muscle – to expose the vertebra(e).
- Cut away all or part of the vertebral element to relieve the source of compression.
- Remove any other sources of compression; i.e., bone spurs and/or disc material (discectomy).
- Ease the soft tissues back into place and close the incision.
A decompression procedure also may be performed in conjunction with spinal fusion. This involves placing bone graft or bone graft substitute between two or more affected vertebrae to promote bone growth between the vertebral bodies. The graft material acts as a binding medium and helps to maintain normal disc height – as the body heals, the vertebral bone and bone graft eventually grow together to join the vertebrae and stabilize the spine.
Today, spinal decompression also can be performed through a minimally invasive procedure that allows your spine surgeon to dilate the muscles surrounding your spine rather than separating the muscles from the spine.
A minimally invasive spinal decompression procedure typically leaves patient with only a small scar when compared to traditional, open spinal surgery. Surgical discomfort often may be relieved with medication, and some patients undergoing a minimally invasive decompression are able to go home the day after surgery.
To determine whether you are a candidate for minimally invasive spinal decompression surgery, talk with your doctor.