Back surgery

With some of most experienced specialist spinal consultants based at Spire Roding Hospital, Redbridge, it’s little wonder that we see patients from all over East London, Essex and the South East to treat for anything ranging from back and leg pain with spinal decompression, right through to extremely complex spinal surgery requiring the insertion of metal rods and cages to stabilise a crumbling spine. After your surgery, Spire Roding's team of physiotherapists will work with you throughout your stay; they will also continue to see you as an out patient after you return home, until you're on the way to a full recovery.

About your back

Your spine is made up of bones called vertebrae, which are essentially the building blocks of your back. These bones are cushioned by discs of tissue which act as shock absorbers. Your spinal cord runs through a channel in the spine, and it is here where nerves branch off to the rest of the body. Occasionally though, these nerves can become compressed and create pressure which can be very painful.

What is back surgery (spinal surgery)?

When one or more nerves in your spine are put under pressure they can cause pain; back surgery is usually performed to relieve some of this pressure. The type of back surgery recommended will depend on your individual needs, as there are several causes of nerve compression. These include:

  • Disc prolapsed/herniation – more commonly known as a ‘slipped’ disc, this occurs when a disc of tissue bulges out between two vertebrae.
  • Spinal stenosis – this happens when the spinal canal becomes narrow due to cartilage in the vertebrae becoming worn or inflamed.
  • Spondylolisthesis – this is the name for when a vertebrae slips out of position.

What does back surgery involve?

There are different types of back or spinal surgery depending on the source of the back pain. During a back operation, a surgeon may perform more than one type of procedure if it is needed. Back operations are generally done under a general anaesthetic, which would mean that you would be asleep throughout the procedure.

What are the symptoms of nerve compression?

Pressure on the spinal nerves causes problems with the traffic of nerve signals to and from the brain. Compressed nerves can also lead to sciatica, which is usually seen with these symptoms:

  • Pain in the lower back, buttock, leg and foot
  • Pins and needles
  • Muscle weakness and/or wasting
  • Loss of sensation

What treatments are available?

Your surgeon will discuss with you which type of back operation is most suitable for your pain. The operation may be done by an open surgery – involving a large cut being made in the back – or a keyhole surgery which is done by using a thin and long microscope and other special instruments through several small incisions on your back. Commonly performed treatments include:

  • Discectomy
    During this procedure, the centre of the disc that is affecting the spinal cord or nerve is removed; this relieves the pressure and the pain caused by the protruding disc.
  • Nerve root or spinal decompression
    The nerve root or spinal decompression method is done to remove any bone, disc tissue or other material that is putting pressure on the nerve or spinal cord areas.
  • Spinal fusion
    In this procedure, your vertebrae are joined together by metal implants, or bone taken from your hip. 

Are treatments available on the NHS?

Surgery for chronic back pain is available on the NHS, generally after a series of treatments including a combination of painkillers or stronger medication, exercise, physiotherapy, and cognitive behavioural therapy. Spire Healthcare is able to offer back surgery to you privately, with a physiotherapist on hand to discuss exercising after the operation, and to help make sure you are comfortable.

Back surgery aftercare

The amount of time needed for recovery is dependent on the type of treatment undertaken. Generally you are required to stay in hospital for two to seven days to recover from the surgery described here. Your physiotherapist will be able to help you exercise whilst you are in bed, and then will be able to help you get up and down the stairs before you are discharged. Your consultant will provide you with more advice about back surgery aftercare.



Back Surgery (Slipped Disc) Lower Back and Facet Joints

Pricing detail £7,011.00

Back Surgery (Slipped Disc) Lower Back

Pricing detail £6,631.00

Back Surgery (Trapped Nerve Release)

Pricing detail £7,151.00

Balloon kyphoplasty

A minimally invasive treatment for vertebral (spinal) compression fractures

A vertebral compression fracture (VCF) can cause severe back pain, limit your mobility, change the shape of your spine and affect your quality of life. Balloon kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure designed to stabilise the fracture and to help correct the vertebral deformity. 

What is a vertebral compression fracture?

The bones in your spine are called vertebrae. The front part of each vertebra is called the vertebral body. A vertebral compression fracture (VCF) occurs when the vertebral body fractures and collapses.

Most VCFs are caused by osteoporosis, a disease in which bones become fragile and are more likely to break. VCFs cause your spine to shorten and bend forward. This results in a hunched-over shape called kyphosis, which can cause chronic pain, breathing problems, loss of appetite and sleeping problems. When you have one or more VCFs, your general health can be seriously compromised.

The four steps of balloon kyphoplasty

Before the treatment, you will have a medical examination and diagnostic studies (such as x-rays) to identify the vertebral compression fracture(s) causing your back pain.

Balloon kyphoplasty can be performed while you are under general or local anaesthesia. Your consultant will discuss which option is most appropriate for you. Generally, the procedure takes less than one hour per fracture treated. 

  1. The surgeon makes a narrow 1cm incision in your back and creates a very small pathway into the fractured bone.
  2. A small balloon is inserted into the fractured vertebral body.
  3. Next, the consultant carefully inflates the balloon to correct the deformity of the collapsed vertebral body. The balloon is then removed, leaving a cavity within the vertebra.
  4. This cavity is filled with a bone cement to stabilise and fixate the fractured vertebra.

These four steps are performed on both sides (left and right) of the vertebral body. Your consultant will discuss with you how quickly you can leave the hospital and return to your daily activities.

Understanding the risks

As with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks with the balloon kyphoplasty procedure. The procedure is designed to avoid these risks as much as possible, but there is a very small chance that complications may occur. You and your consultant should discuss the possible risks associated with this treatment and whether it's right for you, as not all patients will benefit from this procedure.

Benefits of balloon kyphoplasty

  • Provides fast and sustained pain relief
  • Improves your ability to perform activities of daily living
  • Allows patients to keep an upright posture
  • Improves quality of life
  • Corrects the spinal deformity caused by a VCF

With thanks to Medtronic Inc (2008) for supplying patient information

Who specialises in balloon kyphoplasty at Spire Roding Hospital?

At Spire Roding, the procedure is performed by Mr Ben Okafor (FRCS, FRCS (Orth.), MBBS), who has over 15 years experience of operating on patients with complex spinal problems.

Visit Mr Okafor's website

Read more about balloon kyphoplasty on Mr Ben Okafor's website

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Our back specialists

As well as all aspects of back surgery, these consultants are highly experienced in general orthopaedic and lower limb conditions affecting the knees, hips, joints and feet.

We also have consultant neurosurgeons who specialise in spinal and spinal nerve conditions.

Looking after your back

In the January 2010 edition of 'At Home' magazine ('Choosing Your Consultant' supplement), our orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Ben Okafor, gives some sensible, everyday tips to help preseve the health of your back.

View Mr Okafor's article.

© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)