Issues with your cervical spine can cause severe neck pain and discomfort. When other treatment options, like medication and therapy, are ineffective in treating your neck pain, you may need neck surgery. Minimally invasive neck surgery is a procedure used to treat complications with the cervical spine, which runs from the back of your head to the lower back.
The surgical procedure is used to remove a problematic disc from the cervical vertebrae or decompress the spinal cord. The use of minimally invasive techniques to address neck pain and discomfort issues involves making small incisions on the skin above the problematic area and inserting a small tube with cameras and a microscope. This helps diagnose the problem and treat it without making large incisions.
With the advancement in technology, most spine surgeons will recommend the minimally invasive technique. This is because it causes less damage to your muscles and minimizes the risk of complications from the surgery. The thought of undergoing neck surgery could be nerve-wracking. Therefore, you must consult with an experienced spine surgeon. At Lamis, we offer safe, reliable, and effective spine surgery for our patients in Los Angeles, CA.
Understanding Minimally Invasive Neck Surgery
Minimally invasive neck surgery is a type of surgery performed on the bones of your neck. The neck is part of the cervical spine, which is a delicate part of your body. The minimally invasive surgical technique uses small incisions. Unlike open surgery for the neck, this type of surgery helps prevent muscle damage.
Your doctor could recommend minimally invasive neck surgery for the following conditions:
- A pinched nerve. This condition occurs when excessive pressure is placed on the nerve roots of your neck. A pinched nerve may be a result of changes like wear and tear in the cartilage and bones. When the nerve root is compressed, you can feel pain and numbness in the neck. If you are diagnosed with this condition, you may need neck surgery.
- Cervical myelopathy. Compression of the spinal cord, or myelopathy, occurs when the spinal cord is compressed around the neck area. Thus, the condition could be caused by a neck injury or osteoarthritis. Surgery for this condition is required to decompress the spinal cord.
- Cervical fracture. A cervical fracture occurs when one or more bones of the neck are broken. This could be the result of an injury or trauma to the neck. Neck surgery, in this case, is used to repair the broken bone and restore function.
Surgery is often the last option when other treatment options are ineffective for your condition. Before the resulting surgery, you may receive different forms of treatment, including pain medications and physical therapy.
Types of Neck Surgery
There are several types of neck surgery where a minimally invasive technique can be used. The specific type of surgery you need will depend on the nature and severity of your condition. These procedures include:
Cervical Spine Fusion
This type of procedure is used to join two vertebrae on your spine into one solid bone. You may need this type of surgery if a part of your neck is unstable and the motion in the affected area causes pain. If you have a pinched nerve or a compressed cervical spine, you may need this procedure to relieve pressure from the spine.
Depending on your specific condition, the surgeon can make an incision on the front or back of your neck. A bone graft can then be placed in the affected part of your neck. After the spinal fusion, you could experience slight neck stiffness.
Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
A cervical discectomy and fusion is a surgical procedure performed to treat a pinched nerve of the spinal cord around your neck. In the procedure, the disc pinching the nerve could be removed. This helps relieve pressure from the nerve.
The purpose of a laminectomy for your neck is to relieve the pressure on your nerves or spinal cord. During this procedure, the surgeon will make small incisions in your neck and use tools inserted through a tube to remove the lamina. Bone fragments or spurts that could be compressing your spine can also be removed during this procedure.
Artificial Disc Replacement (ADR)
This type of neck surgery is used to treat a pinched nerve in the neck. During the ADR procedure, a small incision is made on the front side of the neck. The surgeon will then remove the disc, compressing the nerve. In most cases, a disc that exerts pressure on the spinal cord is damaged.
After the removal of the disc, an implant will be placed into the cervical spine to replace the disc. The implant could be made of plastic or metal, depending on your preference. The artificial disc replacement surgery allows the neck to retain its flexibility. However, you may not be a good candidate for the procedure if you have osteoporosis or an unstable spinal cord.
Like a laminectomy, a laminoplasty is used to ease the pressure on your cervical vertebrae. Instead of removing the lamina, the surgeon will use a hinge to open the lamina. Metal implants will then be inserted to keep the hinge in place and create space for the spinal nerves.
Laminoplasty is a preferred type of neck surgery because it allows for easy access to spinal compression points. However, when your reason for undergoing the surgery is motion problems, this procedure may not be effective.
Minimally Invasive Neck Surgery Procedure
If you are a good candidate for neck surgery, your surgeon will take you through the specifics of the procedure and the possible outcomes before booking your appointment.
Due to the uncertainty of the outcome of neck surgery, you may feel overwhelmed. Your surgeon will give you instructions on how to prepare for the surgery to ensure that you are calm and reduce the risk of complications. Sometimes, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to take before the procedure. If you are a smoker, you may need to quit smoking in the weeks following the procedure.
This is because tobacco and its products weaken your immunity and can affect your healing process. Before your surgery, you will need several tests, including X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The following is what you can expect for your minimally invasive neck surgery:
- Anesthesia. Before your neck surgery, the surgeon will administer local anesthesia. This allows you to relax during surgery and ease the discomfort or pain.
- Although the incisions in minimally invasive surgery are small, the surgeon will sterilize the skin to prevent the transfer of germs and reduce the risk of infection.
- Making incisions. Your surgeon will make one or more incisions on the skin of your neck above the problematic area. A tube is then inserted through the incision with a special X-ray to view the affected area.
- Repair the spine. How the surgery proceeds after the incisions will depend on the exact neck condition you need to treat. For example, if your surgery involves removing a damaged disc from the cervical spine, the surgeon will pass small instruments into the tube to remove the disc.
- Removal of the tools and stitching When the necessary repairs are done to your cervical spine, the surgical tools will be removed and the incisions closed.
After your neck surgery, the surgeon will give you instructions that you must follow after the surgery. The aftercare instructions for minimally invasive neck surgery include:
- Your neck may feel sore after your surgery. You should rest and avoid straining the neck to boost recovery.
- Your surgeon may prescribe painkillers to relieve the pain from the procedure when your anesthesia wears off. Additionally, antibiotics may be necessary to prevent an infection.
- Wound care. You should avoid constant contact between your incision wounds and water. Your doctor could recommend that you wipe the area with salt water to avoid contamination.
- Seek emergency care when you experience symptoms like excessive bleeding. Breathing difficulties, a severe headache, or a fever.
Benefits of Minimally Invasive Neck Surgery
For neck issues requiring decompression of the spine and fusion, minimally invasive neck surgery is ideal. The following are some of the benefits of undergoing minimally invasive neck surgery to resolve your cervical spine issues:
Lower Risk of Complications
Unlike traditional open surgery, where the surgeon cuts through the muscles to reach the problematic area, minimally invasive neck surgery involves making small incisions in your neck. Open surgeries carry a great risk of complications such as bleeding, muscle damage, and wound infection, which is not the case in minimally invasive surgery. After your minimally invasive neck surgery, you can go home and recover since a hospital stay is unnecessary.
Superior Cosmetic Results
The small incisions made on your neck during the minimally invasive surgery leave little or no scarring on your skin. Scarring on your neck skin can create self-consciousness. Undergoing minimally invasive surgery could save you from undergoing additional cosmetic treatment to clear the scar.
Less Painful Procedure
Since minimally invasive neck surgery does not involve cutting through your muscles to reach the problematic area, the pain associated with the procedure is minimal. However, the surgeon may still administer anesthesia to help you avoid discomfort from the surgery.
Due to the small incisions made during this surgery, the recovery rate for the procedure is faster. You can ensure a fast recovery by caring for your incision wound and taking the medication prescribed to you after the surgery.
Complications Associated with Neck Surgery
The minimally invasive neck surgery procedure involves making a small incision through which the surgeon can treat the problematic part of the cervical spine. Although minimally invasive neck surgery is safer than traditional open surgery, you could experience the following complications from the procedure:
- Allergic reaction to anesthesia. Minimally invasive neck surgery uses small incisions, which means there will be less pain. However, the surgeon will use local anesthesia to numb the incision area to prevent discomfort. Some people report allergic reactions to the anesthesia. Therefore, if you have allergies to medication, you must inform your surgeon beforehand.
- While the incisions on your neck will be small with this surgical technique, you could suffer an infection. Infection after neck surgery may be evident through swelling of the infected area, prolonged pain, and fever. You can avoid an infection after your procedure by following the wound care instructions given by your surgeon.
- Excessive bleeding. Since neck surgery will involve making incisions through your skin, slight bleeding is normal. However, the bleeding should be minimal and stop a few days after the surgery. If the surgery causes damage to a blood vessel, you could suffer excessive bleeding. Another factor that could increase your risk of developing this complication is if you have blood clotting issues. In this case, you can stop taking your blood-thinning medications at least two weeks before your surgery.
- Nerve damage. Although a microscope guides the instruments used in minimally invasive spine surgery, contact with the nerves could cause an injury.
- Ineffective treatment. Neck surgery helps remove a problematic cervical spine disc or decompress the spine. When you undergo neck surgery, you expect to feel relief from your symptoms. Unfortunately, the outcome is not always guaranteed. One of the most unpleasant outcomes of minimally invasive neck surgery is the ineffectiveness of the surgery for your condition. In this case, your surgeon can redo the procedure or recommend an alternative.
Find a Skilled Neuro-Interventional Surgeon Near Me
Neck pain is a common problem that has many causes, from poor sleeping posture to trauma and injuries to your cervical spine. When you consult a doctor about severe neck pain, your doctor will perform different tests to determine the exact cause of the pain before recommending treatment. When other treatment options fail to relieve your symptoms, neck surgery could be recommended.
Neck conditions that may warrant a need for surgery include spinal cord compression, a pinched spine nerve, and a cervical fracture. Surgical procedures in this case include cervical spine fusion, discectomy, and laminectomy. Your neck is part of the spine, which is a sensitive part of your body. For this reason, your surgeon may opt for minimally invasive neck surgery to minimize complications and improve the effectiveness of your procedure.
When using the minimally invasive technique, the surgeon can look into your cervical spine without damaging your muscles or causing large scars on your neck. When performed by a competent surgeon, minimally invasive neck surgery offers numerous benefits for patients dealing with neck pain. If you seek competent neck surgery services in Los Angeles, CA, you will benefit from our expertise at LAMIS. Call us at 310-734-6088 to book an appointment.