Spine surgery is the ultimate method of back pain treatment, which otherwise can’t be resolved. If a patient has serious problems with musculoskeletal system, surgical interference may be the only possible solution. Luckily, the statistics shows that only 5-10% of cases require surgeries.
Orthopedic spine surgeon education
Any orthopedist should have:
- Undergraduate education (4 years) with slant towards biology, chemistry and physics.
- Higher education at medical school finished with degree of Medical Doctor (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.).
- Surgical residency with specialization on musculoskeletal and spine disorders. Training in general surgery, spine-specific studies, orthopedic non-surgical methods.
- Board certification – a special medical license issued by Board of Orthopedic Surgery after fulfillment of all requirements and passing oral and written examinations.
- Fellowship training (optional but highly recommended).
- Specialized spine fellowship programs (additional trainings for spine orthopedists and neurosurgeons).
Orthopedic spine surgeon specialization
These medical specialists have to deal with all kinds of back diseases from scoliosis to open traumas. They should be aware how to treat spine disorders, such as:
- Compression fractures;
- Congenital conditions;
- Spinal tumors;
- Degenerative disks;
- Sciatica (pain in the lower back, buttocks and legs);
- Scoliosis (forward and backward curvature of spine);
- Kyphosis (abnormal curvature in the upper spine);
- Total joint replacement;
- Lumber disorders;
- Spinal infections;
- Cervical spine surgeries.
Generally saying, surgeons specializing in this sphere have to treat all back-related conditions.
Orthopedic spine surgeon responsibilities
- Examination of patients.
- Arranging of various tests (for example, CAT scans, MRI scans, spine ultrasound, PET, X-Ray and many others depending on the affected part of spine).
- Prescription of non-surgical therapies. Usual non-surgical methods include physical exercise, stretching, massage, ice or heat treatment, using back braces, drug treatment (in particular steroid injections and anti-inflammatory medicine). Sometimes combination of these methods is applied. Most of spine-related problems are cured with the help of non-surgical means.
- Prescription of surgical treatments: spinal fusion (surgical technique used to join several vertebras); disk replacement (substitution of damaged disks with artificial ones); laminectoby (surgical technique used to remove lamina – a part of the vertebral bone); diskectomy and microdiskectomy (surgical removal of a large/small fragment of herniated disk material).
- After-surgery examination and control over recovering.
- Medical records maintenance.
Orthopedic spine surgeon and his patients
The choice of a surgeon plays a vital part in getting the most favorable outcome. The majority of patients want to find out the doctor’s experience before agreeing to undergo a surgical operation. They may inquire how long a surgeon has been performing surgeries, how many operations he has done on this part of spine, what possible complications may emerge afterwards and other crucial questions. If a patient is confident in his surgeon, he will be less strained and is sure to recover soon after the operation. The task of an orthopedic spine surgeon is to support his patients before and after the surgery and give them faith and optimism.