Minimally invasive procedures
Dr Steel has been practicing and teaching minimally invasive spine surgery techniques as a consultant for 12 years. He routinely uses minimally invasive techniques and percutaneous approaches for all patients in whom it is suitable.
In some cases, a person’s condition makes keyhole spine surgery impossible. This is discussed with each patient on an individual basis.
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion
This is performed through the front of the neck. It is done to correct a large disc protrusion, when the entire disc needs to be removed, either to remove the diseased disc, or to get to the ruptured portion of the disc, which is at the back.
A spacer, usually made of artificial plastic, is placed in the disc space to ensure it does not collapse. This is filled with small pieces of bone. The two adjacent vertebrae will then knot together (fuse) within six to 12 weeks.
This approach is less painful than operating from behind the neck. There is a small risk of developing permanent hoarseness and there is usually temporary difficulty swallowing, because the voice box and throat need to be pushed to one side at the time of the operation.
Posterior cervical foraminotomy and microdisection
This is a procedure performed at the back your neck. Dr Steel makes a small incision in the midline of your neck and performs a minimally invasive muscle dissection to expose the level of where your nerve or spinal cord is compressed.
This operation involves creating a window between two vertebrae. The foraminotomy is made over a nerve root to alleviate pressure on your nerve.
The nerve may be trapped by bone overgrowth, or spurs (osteophytes) or there may be a disc protrusion which is pressing on the nerve.
Foraminotomy can be done with an endoscope or a microscope. If Dr Steel removes the disc fragment this procedure is called a microdiscectomy.
Surgery for cervical disc disease generally involves one of three operations.
- Posterior cervical foraminotomy and microdiscectomy
- Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion
- Anterior cervical discectomy and artificial disc replacement