Neck surgery is generally considered the last resort for patients who are suffering from symptoms related to degeneration within the cervical (upper) region of the spine. One reason to avoid a neck operation, if at all possible, is that there are many risks and potential side effects that could have a long-lasting impact on a patient’s quality of life. Naturally, the more invasive or radical the surgical procedure performed on someone’s neck, the riskier the operation. While no surgery is completely without risk, technological advances in the use of endoscopic techniques have allowed spine surgeons to dramatically reduce the risks by performing minimally invasive procedures on an outpatient basis.
How minimally invasive neck surgery is performed
In the past, people who underwent neck surgery to treat common spine conditions typically had an operation known as spinal fusion. This is a highly invasive procedure that involves a large incision in the neck or throat, the removal of a large portion of spinal anatomy, and the insertion of metal hardware and bone graft material to permanently fuse two or more vertebral segments together. This open neck surgery carries the risk of infection, nerve damage, internal bleeding, bone graft rejection, hardware failure, and more.
Endoscopic spine procedures, on the other hand, require only a small incision (typically less than 1-inch) and surgical tools are inserted through a tube to give the surgeon targeted access to the anatomical abnormality (bone spur, herniated disc, etc.) causing the symptoms. A laser or other small surgical instruments are used to remove the cause of the painful nerve compression, leaving most of the spinal anatomy intact. Spinal fusion can also be performed using this minimally invasive approach, helping the patient avoid many of the side effects of open spine surgery.
When does neck surgery bbecome an option?
Most people with symptoms associated with cervical nerve compression find they can manage those symptoms using nonsurgical, conservative treatment methods. If those fail after several weeks or months, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about the benefits of endoscopic spine surgery.