Spine Surgery

At Carilion Clinic, we have a team of highly experienced neurosurgeons who can handle the full gamut of spinal conditions. In addition to treating patients with degenerative spinal diseases, such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis (narrowing), and pinched nerves, our highly skilled neurosurgeons care for extremely critical and complex spinal problems, such as badly broken backs and necks, spinal cord and column tumors, as well as tethered spinal cords and spina bifida in children. Carilion's dedicated neurosurgeons have the expertise and experience to guide patients as conservatively as possible through spinal illnesses, and to know when surgery is the best option.

Back and neck pain and pinched nerve syndromes are common, and most episodes of spinal pain or pinched nerve pain (radiculopathy) will settle down and go away within a few weeks or months. Often limited treatment, such as anti-inflammatory medicines, exercise, physical therapy, and/or time is effective. Some conditions, however, are more long lasting, more painful, or more serious than the average case, requiring a more aggressive course of treatment.

One of the most critical factors in the evaluation and treatment of spinal disorders is the decision whether a specific patient will benefit from, or require, surgery. The principal goal of our team is to get patients through their diseases without surgery whenever feasible, and to offer the best surgery when it is not. Most patients' cases will be reviewed by several team members, in effect providing patients with multiple second opinions. Particularly complicated or critical cases will be reviewed by the entire team in multidisciplinary conferences to determine the best treatment options for that patient.

When it comes to the final decision of whether or not to have spine surgery, our team feels that there is no better medical or non-medical personnel to make this call than a neurosurgeon. Neurosurgeons are not only trained to treat the spine; they are the only medical specialists that are trained in the surgical treatment of the actual contents of the spine: the spinal cord and its nerves.

Neurosurgeons are involved in the total management of the spinal and pinched nerve disorders from the very first days of their training. After graduating from medical school, neurosurgeons spend an additional six to eight years of hands-on education exposed to and learning how to treat the full spectrum of spinal diseases, including degenerative (due to wear and tear), oncologic (involving tumors), congenital (from before birth), infectious, and traumatic.

Carilion neurosurgeons are extremely experienced, performing 10-30 spinal surgeries every week. Some types of spinal surgery our neurosurgeons perform include:

  • Syrinx repair/ shunting
  • Complex spinal column deformity correction
  • Osteotomies, vertebral body resections
  • Instrumentation and spinal approaches of all kinds
  • Disc replacements
  • Discectomy
  • Laminectomies
  • Laminoplasties
  • Percutaneous procedures
  • Minimally invasive decompressions
  • Minimally invasive fusions
  • Kyphoplasties
  • Spinal biopsies
  • Repair of spinal column instability
  • Resection of non-neoplastic masses (e.g. neuroenteric cysts)
  • Decompression of stenosis
  • Emergent decompressions for Myelopathy
  • Revision of previous decompressions and fusions
  • Spinal taps