Whiplash Surgery: When it’s Necessary
Disc HerniationDepending on the type of trauma individuals can rupture or herniate the intervertebral disc/s, located between the vertebrae. This can generate constant pain, numbness, and weakness. With cases like this sometimes removal of the disc is necessary.
Artificial Disc ReplacementCervical artificial disc replacement also known as ADR could be performed instead of standard discectomy combined with spinal fusion. An artificial disc is implanted into the empty space following the procedure. Artificial disc replacement preserves or restores movement of the neck.
Fusion and Spinal InstrumentationThis form of spine stabilization can be done on its own or in combination with decompression surgery. The bones in the spine fuse together over time usually several months or longer depending on how the surgeon set up the fusion process. The surgeon will use a bone graft or a biological chemical that stimulates bone growth. A surgeon could use spinal instrumentation. These are:
- Interbody device/s
StenosisWhiplash surgery could also be necessary if the injury caused the spinal canal in the neck to narrow. Here a cervical corpectomy could be performed to remove part of the vertebra and intervertebral disc/s. This reduces the added pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. A surgeon could also do a laminectomy or a laminoplasty. Both focus on the lamina, which is the bony plate at the back of each vertebra. The lamina protects the spinal cord and canal. The lamina could also present added pressure on the spinal cord. This is where the surgeon will create extra space for the cord by removing all or part of the lamina. This is a laminectomy.
ComplicationsA doctor will discuss all the potential risks before being asked to sign a surgical consent form. Complications can include:
- Injury to the spinal cord, nerves, esophagus, carotid artery, vocal cords
- The bone fusion does not heal known as pseudoarthrosis
- Improvement does not occur
- Instrumentation breaks or gets damaged
- Bone graft site pain
- Pain and swelling in the leg veins known as phlebitis
- Blood clots in the lung
- Urination problems
Whiplash Surgery RecoveryAfter surgery, things might not be great right away. More than likely individuals are out of bed within 24 hours, and on pain meds for 2 to 4 weeks. Individuals will receive instructions on how to sitting down, and standing up. The body needs time to heal, so the doctor will recommend restricting certain activities that involve moving the neck too much. Avoid sports, twisting, or heavy lifting during recovery. And report any problems like fever increased pain, or infection right away.
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