Many people with spinal problems and spinal cord injuries remain afraid of surgery, avoiding it for years till their condition becomes worse and difficult to treat. They do not realize that with advancements in technology, spine surgeries are now a very safe option, with less than 1% risk of any complications. In addition, minimally invasive spinal surgeries have become the norm today, with excellent outcomes and the patient getting discharged in a couple of days after the procedure. This was said by Dr. Ashish Tomar, Senior Consultant – Orthopaedics & Spine Surgery, Sarvodaya Hospital, Sector-8, Faridabad, ahead of the World Spinal Cord Injury Day.
Said Dr. Ashish Tomar: “Spine surgeries are very safe, with minimal risk. However, many patients tend to suffer spinal pain for years and keep avoiding surgery. They do not want their spine to be touched at all. Such patients come to us at a stage when the treatment becomes very challenging due to deterioration in the condition of the spine over time. More awareness is needed among people about how safe spinal surgeries have become due to advancements in technology and medical science.”
Minimally invasive surgeries of the spine have been in vogue for the last 15-20 years globally and have become mainstream in India too.
He added further that now, 90% of all our spinal surgeries are minimally invasive. Vast majority of all spinal injuries that we see relate to lower areas of the spine, including the lumbar and lower thoracic region. These are effectively managed with minimally invasive surgery. For upper-level injuries in the cervical (neck) and upper thoracic area, open spine surgery is still preferred. However, here too, doctors have begun to use smaller incisions. The benefit of minimally invasive spinal surgery is that the patient can be discharged from the hospital in a couple of days and can get back to their routine sooner. This is in sharp contrast to traditional surgery that requires 3 to 4 months to get back to one’s routine lifestyle.”
The doctor said there has been an increase of 15-20 percent in spinal injuries due to road accidents in the last 10 years, as Indian road network improves and people tend to drive faster. “We are receiving more and more patients of trauma and spinal cord injuries now due to increasing number of road accidents,” he said.
Spinal cord injuries are of two types: complete (total severance of spinal cord) and incomplete (partial severance). The former is not very common. Said Dr. Ashish Tomar: “In most cases, spinal-cord injuries are incomplete. These involve fractures of the spine but there is sensation and movement in limbs. Regardless of whether the injury is complete or incomplete, spine surgeons prioritize the critical task of nerve decompression. In cases of complete spinal cord injuries, recovery and prognosis are often slower, with patients enduring prolonged pain. The journey back to routine life can take three to four months. However, in incomplete spinal cord injuries, the outlook is brighter, with faster recovery and improved prognosis.”