Description of Dynamic Spinal Stabilization
Dynamic spinal stabilization does not apply to any one particular type of surgery and is sometimes used to refer to several different surgeries. The general idea is based on the concept that many painful spinal conditions cause the spine to be unstable and move in patterns not consistent with a non-degenerated spine. The goal of dynamic spinal stabilization is to stabilize the spine while still allowing controlled motion. Some dynamic stabilization devices can be implanted using minimally invasive surgical techniques.
Dynamic spinal stabilization is most frequently used to treat pain because of degenerative conditions including painful disc degeneration and stenosis.
What to Expect Before Dynamic Stabilization
Once you have decided to have dynamic spinal stabilization, the following events take place:
- A medical examination.
- Chest X-ray, EKG and blood work.
- You may be asked to have a neurological or psychological examination.
- If taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications daily, stop these medications at least one week before dynamic spinal stabilization.
- If you take prescription medications or other drugs, including herbals, ask your doctor how soon before dynamic spinal stabilization you should stop taking these.
- Do not have anything to eat or drink for 6 to 8 hours before dynamic spinal stabilization.
- You will check into the hospital the morning of surgery.
- Prior to surgery, you will be asked to sign permits for surgery, anesthesia, blood and blood products.
What to Expect During Dynamic Spinal Stabilization
(While there are a variety of surgeries that can be described as dynamic stabilization, described below is one of the most common procedures that involves the placement of pedicle screws and rods in the spine.)
- An incision is made in the low back area.
- Fluoroscopy, a method used to make images, is used to determine the correct level(s) to be operated.
- Pedicle screws are placed in the vertebrae above and below the level(s) to be treated (it is not unusual for a decompression surgery to be done before placement of the dynamic device).
- The screws are connected with rods that allow some movement.
- Surgery takes approximately 1-5 hours.
After the Procedure
- You will be in the recovery room from 1 to 1½ hours.
- The surgeon will contact your family while you are in recovery.
- After going to a hospital room, you will be able to use a PCA pump to get medication for pain control. This machine controls the amount of medication that can be received.
- Staff will usually get you out of bed shortly after surgery.
- The hospital stay is usually 1-3 days.
- A brace or corset is usually prescribed to restrict bending and promote healing of the fused area.
- You will be given any needed prescriptions and discharge instructions.
- A set of exercises that you can do at home will be provided.
- You will be able to ride in a car or plane upon leaving the hospital.
- Physical therapy is usually initiated after the first office visit with your doctor following surgery.
Recovery from surgery involving dynamic stabilization varies greatly among patients and is dependent on the exact type of surgery as well as the age and health of the individual. Return to work also varies greatly among patients and is related to overall health and the type of work you do.