Complex Spinal Reconstruction

Complex spinal reconstruction surgery involves carrying out surgery on more than one level of the spine.
When is complex spinal reconstruction performed?

Spinal reconstruction is used to stabilise the spine and correct significant deformities and misalignments such as cervical and thoracic disorders that cause pain, numbness, weakness and tingling in the back, legs, shoulders or arms. These conditions include:

  • Spinal stenosis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spondylolisthesis (displaced disc)
  • Excessive kyphosis (curvature of the upper back)
  • Vertebral fracture
  • Scholiosis

As these disorders often involve carrying out surgery on the area between the neck (the cervical, which is quite flexible) and the chest (upper thoracic spine, which is quite rigid), complex spinal reconstruction surgery can present many challenges to the spine surgeon.

To overcome these challenges, Mr Hutchinson uses artificial devices such as metal screws and hooks, which allow him to stabilise the cervical and upper thoracic spine. These artificial devices replace the diseased area of the spine.

Unlike in the past where spine surgeons would have difficulty placing the screws and hooks into the correct positions, Mr Hutchinson uses a rod, which attaches to the screws and hooks, enabling him to safely place them into the vertebrae of the spine with much greater precision and flexibility.

The benefits of performing complex spinal reconstruction surgery in this way are much shorter procedure times and better clinical outcomes due to the more precise placing of the artificial devices. These devices also help to straighten the spine and keep the vertebrae stable during the recovery period.

What to expect from the surgery

Before undergoing any surgery patients will have to have quit smoking and improve their fitness levels by undertaking regular exercise. This will allow patients to heal more quickly post operation.

Complex reconstruction surgery is performed under a general anesthetic, which means patients will not be awake during the operation. As a fairly major surgical procedure, spinal reconstruction will usually require a hospital stay of between four to six days, depending on how much of the spine has been affected by the surgery and how well the patient is recovering.

Recovery

After complex reconstruction surgery, Mr Hutchinson will prescribe medication to relieve the pain, and onsite Physiotherapists will teach techniques to avoid twisting your spine whilst getting out of bed, sitting, standing and walking. It may also be necessary to wear a brace or cast when patients return home.

Patients can expect their quality of life to significantly improve as they heal after surgery, however it is important to remember that it may take several months to fully recover due to the complexity of the surgery. Mr Hutchinson will help to set realistic expectations for returning to normal activities, and will be on hand prior to surgery to oversee the recovery.