Whether a patient becomes a candidate for spondylolisthesis surgery can depend on several factors. The first factor is how severe a patient’s spondylolisthesis, or vertebral slippage, actually is. The condition usually affects the lower back (lumbar spine) and is typically diagnosed within a grading scale, where Grade 1 denotes zero to 25 percent slippage and Grade 5 denotes complete vertebral dislocation with respect to the rest of the spine. Patients with high-grade slippage may require immediate spondylolisthesis surgery, particularly after sudden trauma.
Another factor in determining if a patient needs spondylolisthesis surgery is whether conservative treatments have helped diminish symptoms. Vertebral slippage can lead to compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots, which may cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the lower extremities. Before surgery is even considered, a doctor will likely recommend a patient first finish several weeks or months of trying physical therapy, anti-inflammatory and pain medications, and other nonsurgical methods.
Surgery Becomes an Option
Patients whose nerve compression symptoms do not improve with conservative treatments may become candidates for spondylolisthesis surgery, which will typically focus on relieving pressure placed on the spinal cord or nerve roots. One surgical approach is spinal fusion, which involves implanting bone grafts, support cages, rods, and screws into the affected vertebrae to permanently fuse them together and halt motion within that segment. Spinal fusion is a highly invasive surgery that may lead to a long and difficult recovery for a patient, as well as a permanent reduction in range of motion.
Laser Spine Institute
Some patients with a slipped vertebra may be candidates for an endoscopic procedure at Laser Spine Institute. Typically, we can help relieve the symptoms of patients with low-grade spondylolisthesis by decompressing affected nerve roots or the spinal cord with minimally invasive techniques. Our orthopedic experts use endoscopes, tiny surgical tools, and a laser to access the affected area and remove bone and soft tissue that is compressing a neural structure. Our patients often are back on their feet within a matter of hours following our procedures.
To find out if you’re a candidate for endoscopic spondylolisthesis surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to schedule a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.