All spine surgery is complex, but there are specific procedures that come under the heading “complex spine surgery.” That’s because they generally involve surgery across three or more spinal segments or may involve correcting previous surgery.
When preparing for these procedures, Dr. Oshtory conducts a series of diagnostic tests (CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays) in order to plan precise surgery that results in long-term improvement in your condition.
During complex spine surgery, Dr. Oshtory accesses the spine through an incision and removes damaged or worn parts of the vertebrae or old broken implants or screws. He then replaces these parts with hardware such as titanium cages and screws to keep the spine straight and strong. Finally, he repositions the vertebrae, checks alignment with an X-ray, measures the alignment with special computer software, and closes the incision.
Complex spine surgery is used as a treatment for degenerative spinal conditions that cause curvatures like scoliosis or kyphosis. Complex spine surgery is also used to reduce pain and prevent paralysis in the case of a spinal tumor. Additionally, it may be used in severe cases of discitis or osteomyelitis, an infection within the spine, to relieve pressure on the nerves and spinal cord and remove infected tissue.
Just a few years ago, complex spine surgery required long incisions in the skin that resulted in greater risk of postoperative infection, higher blood loss and lengthy recovery times. Dr. Oshtory uses new techniques, such as XLIF® (eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion), to minimize blood loss and tissue damage. This means you can expect a much quicker recovery time and, ultimately, a smaller scar. People who’ve undergone XLIF report a rapid decrease in their pain levels and can be up and walking within just a few hours after surgery.
Complex spine surgery can result in complications such as infection, bleeding, or nerve damage, although these risks are reduced by the minimally-invasive techniques Dr. Oshtory uses. These risks are increased if you have heart disease, diabetes, or osteoporosis, or if you smoke or are obese. Dr. Oshtory offers advice on a case-by-case basis, exploring your personal medical history in detail as part of his preparation.