What is spinal cord compression?
Spinal cord compression occurs when there is pressure on the spinal cord, anywhere from the neck (cervical spine) to the lower back (lumbar spine). Degenerative changes with aging, hernia, injury or trauma, infection, cancer, abnormal bone growth, hematomas (blood) compress the spinal cord and the nerves within. The patient can experience symptoms such as numbness in the limbs, pain in the neck or back, loss of sensation in the feet, or faulty hand-coordination.
For example in the case of Cauda Equina Syndrome, the nerve roots in the tail bone are severely compressed. The pain is felt at the lower back with a reduced sensation in the buttocks, genitalia, bladder, and the rectum (Saddle anesthesia, loss of sensation in the area that would touch a saddle). If untreated, the person may experience reduced sensation, reflexes, bladder and bowel control, and sexual response. People with CES require immediate medical and surgical attention (spinal decompression) to avoid further loss of sensation and function.
What is spinal decompression surgery and its types?
Spinal decompression surgery is a surgical treatment that is either performed using open surgery or minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) or endoscopic spine surgery (ESS). There are various procedures that can relieve the symptoms caused by spinal cord compression, which irritates the nerves. Some of the techniques are:
- Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) surgery: A small pouch is created with the help of a band to minimize food intake and increase satiety.
- Gastric balloon surgery: A balloon is placed inside the stomach to promote early satisfaction.
A portion of the disc is removed to relieve the pressure near the nerve roots.
A section of the lamina, i.e. the bony arches of the spinal canal, can be removed to relieve the pressure. If the entire lamina is removed, it is called laminectomy.
Some bone or tissue is removed in order to expand the openings through which the nerve roots leave the spinal cord, thereby providing relief from symptoms.
The spinal cord and nerves can also be decompressed by removing all or part of the vertebral body.
Recovery from spine decompression surgery: Recovery and hospital stay varies from patient to patient and is drastically reduced in MISS and ESS. Patients undergoing traditional open surgery stay in the hospital for 3 to 5 days at least whereas, minimally invasive and endoscopic procedures allow the patient to get discharged on the same day or in 1 to 2 days.