That’s a big question and one a lot of patients ask when considering surgical options. It’s an important question, but there are many different types of spine surgery and many different types of patient.
There are, in fact, numerous factors to consider, so in answer to the question, “How long does spine surgery take?”, there’s no simple answer. Let’s have a look at some of the factors that can impact the duration of spine surgery procedures.
Some factors affecting time frames.
Traditional spine surgery requires a lot more from both the surgeon and the patient. Incisions are larger, allowing the surgeon to pull aside muscles to have unimpeded access to the section of the spine being addressed.
But even examining the duration of surgeries in the traditional model renders a variety of results. For example, lumbar fusion surgery can be achieved in as little as 2.5 hours, but it can take as long as 6 to 7 hours. Same surgery, different amount of time required. Why?
Scar tissue from previous surgeries can slow things down, as well as the condition of the vertebrae being fused. Another factor is the number of vertebrae being fused. Still, another is the degree to which degeneration has progressed in the individual patient. These factors account for the huge time differentials cited above.
Who’s in the operating theater with your surgeon can also change the length of time you’ll be on the table. The presence of a vascular surgeon means your doctor is using an anterior incision (which is a less invasive technique). This factor, including the minimally-invasive nature of the procedure, can reduce time spent in surgery, as well as recovery time (as is the case with all MISS procedures).
If the surgery involves installation of devices like screws, plates and cages, the surgery may be more involved and take longer than anticipated. Some surgical fusions are much more involved due to this factor, meaning surgery can last up to 7 hours and involve increased recovery time in both the hospital and at home.
When asking the question, “How long does surgery take?” it’s important to remember that your surgeon may have a reasonably clear idea about the progress of your condition from diagnostics. But it’s only in surgery that the whole story can be known.
The severity of a patient’s condition may be greater than even the most gifted practitioner can measure, before the incision is made. This is a huge contributing factor to longer surgical times and one which is very difficult to predict.
Surgery takes as long as it takes, to be honest. Every patient is different and so, every procedure is different. We wish we had a cut and dried answer to offer to this question, but in all honesty, the response must be nuanced to prevent confusion.
The team at Progressive Spine is dedicated to spine health and treatment. At our state-of-the-art facility, we offer specialized care that acknowledges your individuality. Contact us to find out more.