Myelopathy is a condition where there is loss of spinal cord activity due to trauma or degeneration of the spine. The aim of the surgery is to relieve symptoms of pressure on the spinal cord or decompressing. Surgery is recommended when the nonsurgical treatments no longer work and the disorder progresses to swelling in the spinal cord along with neurological changes like:
Weakening of arms and legs
Difficulties in motor skills
The spine consists of the bone, ligaments, joints, and muscles. The spinal cord is a collection of never fibres connected to the brain and the brain stem serving to effectively communicate the function between the brain and the body.
Spinal Cord Surgery
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- A complete physical examination of your body.
- Taking diagnostic tests.
- Inform your doctor of all your medical history including allergies and medications.
- The type of surgery depends on your overall health, type and location of the problem.
- Your doctor will discuss the best procedure for you.
- You will be asked to stop smoking if you currently do.
- If overweight, you will be asked to shed some pounds.
- You may be asked to do a combination of exercises.
- Lifestyle changes on eating and living healthy may be prescribed.
- You may need to undergo hot and cold treatments, injections.
- If oral medications are given, you will need to take them exactly as prescribed.
- You will need to fast 8 – 12 hours before surgery.
- You will be given general anaesthesia so that you will not feel any pain.
- The surgeon makes an incision into the affected area.
- Depending on the type of Myelopathy, the surgeon will perform either a front or back of the neck approach or both may be necessary in some cases.
- A spinal fusion may be done wherein a bone graft is used to fuse together the vertebrae.
- In some cases, a “cage” may be used to allow spinal fusion between two vertebrae for stability along with screws and rods.
- Laminectomy procedure may be carried out to remove bony arch at the back of the spinal canal along with bone spurs and ligaments that compresses the spinal cord.
- A bone graft may follow this procedure.
- Laminoplasty is an alternative procedure wherein the sides of the spinal canal are thinned out on one side and then cut on the other side to create a hinge expanding space for the spinal cord.
- The incision is closed and dressing is done on the area.
- Typical hospital stay is for a day or two. However, the length depends on the recovery process of the patient.
- Depending on the procedure, a drain may be attached to your spine to collect any blood or fluid after surgery.
- You may have difficulty swallowing some food for several days. Having soft food that are easy to swallow post operation will be helpful.
- You may also have a hoarse voice depending on the type of surgery.
- You may need to wear a soft or rigid collar for some time.
- You may be given medication if you experience any pain.
- Your surgeon may recommend a therapist.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which type of surgery will work best for me?
A: This will depend on the type of Myelopathy you have – the location of the problem and the severity of it.
Q: What is the purpose of surgery?
A: Myelopathy spinal cord surgery intends to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and stabilise the spine by means of removing of bone spurs, herniated discs, or fusing together the vertebrae to become a single, solid bone. The goal may not necessarily be to restore the normal function of the body.
Q: Who are candidates for surgery?
A: Patients who experience the following are usually recommended for surgery:
- Patients with progressive neurological changes like imbalance, weak arms or legs along with signs of spinal cord swelling
- Patients with severe or disabling pain
Q: What is the prognosis of this surgery?
A: This depends on patients to patients. Usually, symptoms are reduced, neurological problems are prevented from worsening, and the spine is stabilised.
Q: Is Myelopathy Spinal Cord surgery a painful experience?
A: Since general anaesthesia will be given to you, you will be asleep during the procedure and feel no pain. However, you will experience some soreness, pain or difficulty swallowing depending on the type of surgery. All these could be eased with medication or eating soft foods.
Q: How soon can I be active again?
A: You may need to take good care of yourself for the first 4 – 6 weeks. A physical therapist will be able to help you regain your function. It may take 3 -4 months for full recovery.
Q: When will I be able to fly long haul?
A: This may take 4 – 6 weeks normally but depends on your recovery. Your surgeon may be the best person to recommend the time for travel. You may also want to familiarise yourself with airline policy on patients for maximum benefit.
Q: Do I need to carry a yellow fever vaccination certificate when I travel to India?
A: Yes. If you are travelling from Africa, South America or other areas where yellow fever is found. Click Here to check the list of countries. Both adults and children need to carry the certificate.
Q: Do I need Oral Polio Vaccination Certificate?
A: Yes. All travellers from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia, and Israel must carry an Oral Polio Vaccination (OPV) Certificate which must be taken not earlier than 6 weeks before entry. This rule applies to both adults and children.
Q: Can I get visa on arrival if I travel to India for my treatment?
A: Yes, if you are from Japan, Cambodia, Finland, Indonesia, Philippines, Luxembourg, Myanmar, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and, Vietnam. Travellers from Bhutan, Nepal, and Maldives can enter India without a visa i.e. up to 90 days.
Q: What are the eligibility requirements for a medical visa to India?
A: If you have a valid passport and visa and are seeking medical treatment in a recognized and reputed hospital in India, then you can apply for a medical visa to India. Up to 2 attendants who are blood relatives can accompany the patient under separate attendant visas.
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