Every patient who comes through the doors at MedStar Health gets a personalized education on their back condition and the surgical options available. We have multidisciplinary teams of back and spine specialists throughout the central Maryland, Baltimore, Virginia, and Washington DC region, including neurosurgeons, physiatrists, rheumatologists, orthopedic surgeons, and physical and occupational therapists.
Our experts are trained in the latest techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of disorders, conditions, and injuries of the spine. Together, we determine the source of your pain and treat it as effectively as possible.
Cervical Spine Anatomy
Cervical Stenosis Q&A
Spine Tumor Q&A
Cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spinal surgery
Pain in these areas is generally first treated with some combination of medication and physical therapy. If the pain does not improve after some months of these treatments, surgery can become an option. Spine surgery can help a variety of back conditions, including:
Arm and leg pain
Minimally invasive and microscopic spinal surgery
During minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS), MedStar Health surgeons make a small incision and use advanced computer technology and specialized instruments to repair back and spine conditions. In microscopic surgery, we combine minimally invasive techniques with highly sensitive, cutting-edge surgical microscopes to access even the most delicate areas with precision.
Minimally invasive techniques offer patients:
Faster recovery time than traditional spinal surgery
Reduced blood loss
Faster return to your regular lifestyle
Robotic-assisted spine surgery
Innovative technology is available for patients needing spine surgery, and MedStar Health offers more options than ever. Robotic-assisted systems improve the way our expert physicians operate. Surgical robots don’t supplant the skills of the surgeon, but rather complement them. The overarching goal of robotic-assisted navigation in spine surgery is accuracy.
Benefits of robotic-assisted navigation in surgery:
- More accurate and precise procedure
- Less invasive
- Shorter recovery times
- Improved patient experience
- Great results
Motion-sparing spinal surgery
Traditional fusion surgery merges the vertebrae, which relieves pain and pressure, but also restricts your ability to move. Motion-sparing spinal surgery gives you the best of both worlds—it relieves pressure on your spinal cord and preserves your range of motion. Motion-sparing techniques can be used in cervical artificial disc replacement and laminoplasty (removing spinal cord pressure from cervical spine stenosis).
Spinal deformity surgery
If you or your child suffers from a spinal deformity, the orthopedic spine surgeons at MedStar Health will work to correct the problem with braces and other non-surgical approaches. In most cases, we try not to treat scoliosis and other spinal deformities with surgery, but if more conservative treatments do not improve the deformity, surgery may be the best option.
MedStar Health orthopedic surgeons always take time to explain the risks and benefits of any procedure and help our patients come to a decision that feels right. We also work with any other specialists involved, so treatment is multidisciplinary and comprehensive. Surgery for spinal deformities, such as scoliosis and kyphosis, can straighten the spine and/or release the pressure on spinal nerves. This often requires uniting the vertebrae using special implants to keep the spine together.
Laminectomy and cervical laminoplasty
Both a laminectomy and laminoplasty are used to take the pressure caused by spinal stenosis (narrowing) off your spinal cord. During a laminectomy, the surgeon removes the part of the vertebra that covers and protects your spinal canal to decrease pressure on the spinal cord or a spinal nerve. A laminectomy can be used to treat several conditions that cause this narrowing, including injuries, disc disease, and arthritis.
Laminectomy can be performed at any level of the spine, sometimes using minimally-invasive techniques. Patients with single-level or two-level stenosis of the lumbar spine are often sent home on the day of surgery.
Laminoplasty is used to treat patients with cervical (neck) spinal stenosis. It also relives pressure caused by stenosis, but unlike other treatments, this procedure does not limit your ability to turn and move your neck following surgery. This is because there is no fusion required during surgery.
Most laminoplasty patients will spend one or two days in the hospital. A soft surgical collar is sometimes used to support the neck, and pain medication can help alleviate pain from the surgery.
Thoracic and lumbar decompression
This surgical procedure can alleviate back pain and sciatica (tingling, numbing, and painful sensation associated with a pinched nerve) caused by arthritis, disc disease, stenosis, scoliosis, and spondylolisthesis. In general, decompression surgery removes damaged portions of the spine that are causing pressure on the nerve root. During the surgery, your doctor will perform one of two common decompression procedures:
Microdiscectomy/microdecompression: A small incision is made in the back through which damaged portions of a spinal disc are removed.
Laminectomy: This procedure creates more space in the spinal canal for the nerve root to reduce pressure, which reduces back pain and restores a wider range of motion.
When a disc in the neck slips out of place or wears over time, it can cause severe neck pain. One treatment option for this problem is anterior cervical disc replacement surgery. During this procedure, your doctor removes the disc and replaces it with an artificial disc. This artificial cervical disc imitates a real disc, offering support between the bones of your spine and allowing for a full range of motion.
Disc replacement may be recommended for patients who are suffering from severe neck pain due to:
Herniated disc (neck)
Neck fracture/broken neck
Sciatica (pinched nerve)
Following surgery, patients usually stay in the hospital for several days. As you are healing, your doctor will create a personalized recovery plan for you, which may include neck bracing, pain medication, physical therapy, and rest.
Thoracic, lumbar and cervical fusion
This advanced surgical procedure is performed to repair damage to the spine and neck caused by a range of conditions, including adolescent scoliosis, arthritis, herniated disc, lumbar disc disease, lumbar stenosis, sciatica, scoliosis, and spondylolisthesis.
During the procedure, your surgeon will remove any damaged portions of the spine and replace them with healthy bone, taken either from your pelvic bone or a bone bank. Over time, the vertebra will fuse together to form one bone. The procedure can be done in the lower (lumbar), upper (thoracic) spine, and neck.
During recovery, your doctor may recommend wearing a back brace to keep your spine aligned and supported while the bones fuse. In later stages of recovery, your doctor may recommend physical therapy and exercise therapy.
The unique spine care program at MedStar Health features talented physical therapists working closely with a variety of physicians to obtain the best outcome for conservative treatment. Our therapists are continually enhancing their knowledge with up-to-date techniques regarding back and neck care.
Back School: This rehabilitation program is a group setting and is designed to educate individuals to take control of their back and/or neck pain.
Aquatic Therapy: The therapist and patient use the qualities of water and heat to decrease pain and swelling and to increase movement. The pool is heated and handicapped accessible.
Manual Therapy: Our therapists have taken many additional courses to provide highly skilled services using their hands. This may include massage, mobilization of joints, and more.
Exercise: Therapists and patients work together to develop an individualized exercise program to stretch or strengthen appropriate muscles. Emphasis is placed on the patient continuing these exercises at home.
Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program: This is a six-week program where patients can exercise in a group setting specially designed for people with arthritis. Our therapists have been trained by the Arthritis Foundation to teach this course.