Cervical Microscopic Decompression Surgery
Cervical microscopic decompression surgery is a procedure that relieves pressure on the spinal cord and or nerves by removing intervertebral tissue. Dr. David Barnett performs the operation on eligible patients using a minimally invasive approach that facilitates a swifter recovery and a more comprehensive relief of symptoms.
Indications for cervical decompression
Over time the cervical vertebrae and adjacent soft tissues can undergo degenerative changes that narrow the spinal canal opening. Compression is often caused by the normal wear-and-tear that is part of the natural aging process. Although spinal compression often occurs in patients 40 and older, it can also develop at a younger age due to sudden trauma, poor posture, and other factors.
Microscopic cervical decompression can help relieve myelopathy and radiculopathy–compression of the spinal cord and nerve roots–that produce several symptoms, including:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Muscle weakness in the neck and extremities
- Numbness and tingling in the arms
- Difficulty walking
- Decreased coordination
More extensive cervical spine compression can also lead to bladder and bowel dysfunction. The goal of cervical decompression is to prevent further progression that can exacerbate symptoms and worsen quality of life.
The microscopic procedure decompresses the impaction of the spinal cord and neural tissues due to:
Dr. Barnett may recommend cervical decompression if alternative approaches such as physical therapy, acupuncture, steroid injections, oral corticosteroids, and manual manipulation fail. To ensure eligibility for any spinal surgery, Dr. Barnett will review the patient’s overall health, underlying medical conditions, lifestyle, and anticipated level of post-operative activity.
Microscopic cervical decompression surgical technique
The cervical spine surgery is done under general anesthesia with the patient in a prone position. Dr. Barnett makes a small vertical incision above the targeted level and, utilizing microscopic sight-control, uses a tubular retractor to create a working channel for the operation. Special instrumentation can be passed through this small tube, allowing Dr. Barnett to remove obstructing structures and widen the spinal canal with minimal tissue disruption.
Once the stenosis has been fully addressed, the wound is closed and sutured. The entire surgery typically lasts approximately 45 minutes.
Post-operative care and recovery
The surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis, but some patients may need to remain in the hospital overnight. Dr. Barnett will provide a specific post-operative plan along with dates for follow-up appointments.
After two weeks, patients can resume mild physical activities and light office work. Strenuous exercise should be avoided for the first two to three months, depending on the rate of healing. Patients are advised to follow a professionally supervised physical therapy protocol directed by Dr. Barnett to help promote a faster recovery.
Total recovery time varies from patient to patient and is best explained by Dr. Barnett before the procedure.
Benefits of minimally invasive microscopic cervical decompression
Minimally invasive spinal surgery reduces soft tissue damage and has several advantages over traditional surgical techniques. These include:
- Lower risk of complications
- Less blood loss
- Reduced infection risk
- Less pain after surgery
- Shorter hospital stays
- Shorter recovery period
- Smaller scars
- Faster return to normal activities
David Barnett M.D., Dallas neurosurgery and spine specialist
A leading spine specialist and neurosurgeon, Dr. David Barnett, offers a comprehensive range of minimally invasive surgical options for the treatment of cervical myelopathy, stenosis, and radiculopathy. Dr. Barnett serves as a team neurological consultant for the Dallas Cowboys and as a neurotrauma consultant for professional football teams.
In qualified hands, cervical spine decompression surgery can mean a faster recovery and a return to normal life. Find out if you are a candidate. Contact our Dallas-Fort Worth office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Barnett today.
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