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Spine Surgery

What is Spinal Fusion and Spine Surgery?

Spinal fusion is a type of spine surgery in which two or more bones of the spine are connected or fused together, allowing them to eventually grow and heal into a single solid bone. This is done to eliminate movement between the two bones in order to alleviate pain, strengthen stability and correct deformities in the spine.

Why Do You Need Spine Surgery?

Spine surgery in Singapore may be recommended to treat the following conditions:

  • Sciatica

  • This refers to pain, irritation or inflammation in the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back and branches down to each leg. This commonly occurs as a result of a slipped disc pressing on the sciatic nerve.
  • Slipped disc

  • In between the vertebrae are discs that serve as protective cushions or shock-absorbing pads, allowing us to move and bend easily. When the jelly-like core of these discs bulge or push against the disc’s outer ring, a slipped or herniated disc occurs. Since the spinal canal has limited space, the displaced disc can press on the spinal nerves, causing pain.
  • Spinal stenosis

  • This occurs when space in the spine starts to narrow, thus placing increased pressure on the spinal cord or the nerves that travel from the spinal cord to the muscles.
  • Acute lower back pain

  • This is often caused by injury to the muscles or ligaments that support the back. The pain is usually a result of muscle spasms or tears.

Spine Surgery Options: Minimally Invasive VS Traditional Surgery

Today, there are two main methods for clinical spine surgery: traditional open surgery and minimally invasive surgery.

  • Traditional spine surgery

  • This is the conventional method. It usually requires a midline incision and dissection of the paraspinal muscles. At the same time, it offers better access of the surgery site.
  • Minimally invasive spine surgery

  • This is an alternative to traditional spine surgery. This utilizes smaller incisions, less cutting of soft tissues and muscle dissection. This surgery may also result in less pain after and faster recovery. However, minimally invasive surgery may not be suitable for everyone, and your spine surgeon will be able to advise you accordingly.

Aside from these two, there are other types of surgery such as:

  • Radiofrequency surgery

  • The surgeon uses radiofrequency probes to reduce pain from affected discs, or shrinkage of bulging discs which helps to decompress nerves that are irritated or compressed.
  • Robotic surgery

  • This is a form of minimally invasive spine surgery where the surgeon performs the operation with the help of robotic arms that are precisely guided via a console.

Spine Surgery Procedures

The type of spine surgery used will depend on the patient’s condition. Common procedures include:

  • Spinal fusion
    • Similar to a welding process, spinal fusion merges two bones in the spine so that they will naturally heal together and form a single bone.
  • Microdiscectomy
    • This procedure involves removing portions of the herniated disc to alleviate pressure on the spinal nerve.
  • Laminectomy
    • This involves removing the lamina, the part of the vertebra that covers the spinal canal. It is done to widen the spinal canal to prevent the cord and spinal nerves from being compressed.
  • Disc replacement
    • This surgery relieves the pain by replacing a degenerated/damaged disc in the the spine with a prosthetic one.

    Post Procedure and Recovery

    After undergoing spinal surgery, you will need to stay in the hospital until the doctor clears you for discharge. During your hospital stay, a tube will be connected to your back to drain the fluid from your wounds. You will also be given an intravenous (IV) line through which you can directly receive pain relievers, antibiotics and other medicines. A urinary catheter may also be initially placed to allow you to go to the bathroom without having to move much.

    Once cleared to go home, the doctor will provide at-home care instructions and help you schedule physiotherapy sessions. For the first weeks you may need to wear a brace, and you will need to avoid doing heavy physical tasks and household chores, as well as lifting heavy objects. You are advised to sit on a sturdy chair that straightens your back and allows you to maintain a good posture. Getting enough sleep is key to recovery, too.

    Dr Chua Soo Yong specializes in the management of all spinal problems, including herniated discs and spinal stenosis. Call 6262 0555 to make an appointment with our specialist today.

    Dr Chua Soo Yong Consultant Orthopaedic & Spine Surgeon
    MBBS (S’pore), MRCS (Edinburgh), MMed (Ortho), FRCS (Ortho), FAMS (Ortho)

    Dr Chua is an Orthopaedic and Spine Surgeon with over 20 years of experience treating back and neck issues, which are commonly associated with the spine.

    He is particularly passionate about treating conditions of the spine not only because it relieves pain, but because it also has the potential to reverse paralysis to a certain extent, which means a great deal to patients.

    Why Choose Our Spine & Orthopaedic Clinic for Your Back & Neck Problems?
    Atlas Orthopaedic Clinic is committed to providing effective, compassionate and holistic care to all patients.
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