Surgery is always a frightening prospect, and this is especially true for those who need surgery on their spine. A diagnosis of cervical stenosis strikes patients as particularly risky because it involves surgery on the neck, but as innovative new techniques are introduced, patients have less and less to fear. One of the most remarkable of these innovations is the introduction of high frequency ultrasonic technology that replaces traditional tools, minimizing risk and facilitating much faster recoveries.
To understand the way that ultrasonic technology facilitates safe surgeries, you first need to understand what cervical stenosis is and what needs to be done in order to repair it. Patients who have cervical stenosis are essentially suffering from arthritis in their necks. Just as arthritis in the hands leads to large, knobby knuckles, similar outgrowth occur in the neck, pushing towards the nerves that emerge from the spinal cord and eliminating the space through which they normally pass. When bony spurs grow too large and the space becomes too narrow, it creates pressure on the nerve roots and this causes discomfort and pain, and for many patients it causes disabilities and a significant loss of function.
Cervical stenosis can present in numerous ways, with some patients experiencing pain in the neck or face, between their shoulder blades, or even into the arms, trunk or legs. They may feel tingling or numbness, burning or muscle spasms. As these symptoms grow worse they can lead to challenges with balance or muscle weakness, and in the most severe situations patients with untreated stenosis may find themselves paralyzed.
The most common treatment for the problem of stenosis is to create a roomier passageway for the spinal cord, and this usually involves removing any bony structures that are interfering with the cord and then replacing the problematic structures with other types of support such as screws and rods, or else fusing the bones together at the point where the bone spur had grown. Though this can be effective, it can also compromise the patient’s mobility, and patients are often unhappy with the results.
The introduction of ultrasonic equipment is quickly changing this experience, as it allows spine specialists to use high speed vibration to perform cutting tasks without risking the nerves or other structures in the cervical spine. Not only does this deliver better results, it also makes the surgical procedure much safer and provides the patient with faster recovery.
Though the use of an ultrasonic bone cutter may seem like magic, if you’ve ever watched a cast being cut off and removed without the skin underneath being cut by the saw then you have a pretty good understanding of what happens during the minimally invasive spine surgeries using ultrasonic equipment. The fact that the cutters don’t actually use a sharp blade makes them safe for nearby structures. At the same time its small size allows the patient to go through the surgery without the need for large incisions to be made in skin or tissue.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of spinal stenosis or any other type of neck or back pain, determining the best course of treatment begins with a diagnosis. To set up a time for an examination, contact our lumbar spine surgery practice today.