The lumbar, or lower back region of the spine bears most of the weight of the human body and is responsible for allowing you to bend over, twist, bear weight, walk, and support the upper torso. Any time a section of vertebra or the bony joints that make up the spinal column are injured, damaged or disease, mobility may be reduced, range of motion affected, and patients may experience numbness, tingling, and pain in the lower torso and extremities. A lumbar corpectomy removes damaged and diseased areas of spinal bone in the vertebrae to facilitate greater mobility, range of motion and reduction of pain.
A lumbar corpectomy procedure removes portions of damaged or diseased bone from in between the spine's vertebra. The procedure, mostly performed in order to reduce pain and increase range of motion and mobility helps to relieve pressure against nerve roots that extend from the spinal canal that are pinched or otherwise impinged by defective vertebral discs or damage by disease to vertebral bone structure. Anyone diagnosed with a spinal column deformity may also benefit from the procedure.
A lumbar corpectomy procedure takes place while the patient is positioned on his or her right side. Access to the spine is engaged from the patient's left side. During the procedure, the damaged or diseased vertebra is totally removed, which creates an open space between the vertebrae and removes pressure and compression of spinal nerve roots.
Following removal of the vertebrae, the vertebral discs above and below that vertebral space are also removed. The surfaces of the vertebrae above and below the removed section of vertebrae are cleaned and their surfaces prepared for a bone graft, which will be inserted to replace the remove portion of vertebral bone.
A special surgical bolt is inserted into the midline of each vertebra above and below the damaged vertebral space. The surgeon uses special tools to screw the bolts into the vertebrae, which serve to widen the vertebral space and correct the curvature of the spinal column. This portion of the lumbar corpectomy procedure is called a reduction of the deformity or deformity reduction.
A bone graft is then inserted into the space where the damaged or diseased vertebral bone has been removed. The bone graft may be taken from the patient in a procedure called an autograft. Bone grafts from the patient are often taken from the hipbone but may also be taken from a cadaver femur bone. The bone graft is inserted and the bolts are once again adjusted to secure the new bone graft into position.
A thin metal plate is placed over the bolts to provide adequate support for not only the new bone graft, but also the vertebrae directly above and below the bone graft. The bolts are held in place by nuts and additional screws may be inserted for added support. This bridge provides solid structure and support of the vertebrae while the bone graft heals. Gradually, the bone graft will fuse with the vertebrae above and below the location to create one solid bone mass. This bone mass or segment is called a bone fusion.
In the United States, any type of spine surgery can be prohibitively expensive. Average costs for lumbar surgical procedures range between $25,000 and $40,000. Geographical location, surgeon, hospital fees, and operating room costs as well as the limitations of personal health care insurance also determine final costs.
Travelers to foreign destinations such as those found in South Korea may pay approximately $21,000 for a lumbar corpectomy, including all surgical fees, operating room costs, and pre- and postoperative care.
When deciding on an orthopedic surgeon for the spinal lumbar corpectomy procedure, it's important to find an experienced and qualified professional who has experience with different techniques for lumbar spinal surgical procedures. Whenever possible, consumers are encouraged to get more than one opinion before engaging in any type of spinal surgery, as well as making sure that facilities, surgeons, and healthcare staff are accredited by international associations and organizations to ensure quality of equipment, technology, as well as quality of care by medical staff.
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