Spinal Surgery with NSPC’s Dr William J. Sonstein
I have been performing spine surgeries for 17 years on Long Island, and I thoroughly enjoy caring for patients with spine problems, focusing especially on the neck and lower back. Most of the conditions we see at NSPC are degenerative, or they result from arthritis, disc herniations, or narrowing of the spinal canal.
Although we evaluate patients for surgery, we always try to look for nonsurgical solutions, and I send most of my patients for nonsurgical treatments, including physical therapy, injections, medications, and others. When patients have tried all other types of treatments, and they still suffer, we often do spinal compressions.
Spinal Compression and Discectomy
Believe it or not, spinal compressions are actually quite straightforward, safe, and even routine. One surgery we perform is called a discectomy. In a discectomy, we remove part of the disc that is pressing on the nerve, both in the neck and back. For the neck, we may perform an anterior cervical discectomy, which requires a small incision in the front of the neck. We remove part of the disk by scraping it, alleviating the pressure on the nerve. Finally, we usually insert a small plate and a bone, taken from a cadaver, which is very safe. While they recover, patients often wear a collar for about one to four weeks. The surgery does not hurt very much, and patients are usually back to work and functional within the month.
Lower back surgery is a bit different because we have to get through more tissue, and the back is larger. We use similar decompression techniques, and we are careful to make sure that there are no spinal fluid leaks.
Sometimes, when people have arthritis, an instability caused by lack of cartilage, we need to fuse some of their vertebrae together. Patients do not generally notice an extreme difference in mobility once they have recovered from a spinal fusion.
Tools For Treating Spine Conditions
One tool we use is called the Aquamantys, which is based on radio frequency. This device helps reduce the amount of blood loss during surgery.
Another tool, the Bone Scalpel, is an ultrasonic device that literally melts the bone away, allowing decompression of the nerves without hurting the soft tissue. This tool also reduces or eliminates spinal fluid leaks, and I am very happy I can offer this to my patients.
Sometimes, we insert hardware, such as titanium screws and rods, to hold the spine together. In most cases, these are easy to insert. They promote stability of the spine, and their insertion is one of the simplest parts of surgery.
I enjoy doing surgery on both the neck and back and relieving pressure on nerves. I offer many techniques that I believe reduce complications and promote safety and effectiveness during surgery. I am happy to see patients in my office to evaluate them for these types of surgical problems.
To learn more about Dr Sonstein and spine surgeries visit our Ultrasonic Spine Institute.