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Other Spine-Related Conditions and Emergencies

Patients need neurosurgeons for other types of spine-related conditions and these are often serious medical events, of an urgent nature:

  • other spineConditions affecting blood circulation to the spine, including blood clots, vascular malformations or burst aneurysms are uncommon occurences, accounting for only about one in every 100 strokes, but they can be very serious events that can cause paralysis or loss of organ function and other neurologic and systemic complications.   Treatment for these spinal strokes does not involve surgery but instead supportive care, treatment of symptoms, and rehabilitative techniques similar to those applied to spinal cord injury.
  • Trauma injury to the bones of the spine or to the spinal cord can cause severe pain and loss of function. Neurosurgeons may sometimes be consulted or involved if reconstructive surgery to the spine impacts the spinal cord or nerve roots.   Surgery is necessary to address fragments of bones, foreign objects, herniated disks or fractured vertebrae that appear to be compressing the spine, in order to relieve pressure in, and stabilize, the spinal column after traumatic injury.  Surgery may involve fixation to stabilize the spine, a procedure that usually takes advantage of both implanted hardware and fusion of bone grafts.
  • Infections can affect the spinal cord, the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord or the spinal vertebrae and disks.  Myelitis refers to inflammation of the spinal cord in such cases.   If medical treatment means fail to control an infection that causes an abscess (a collection of pus, immune cells, and other material in the brain, usually from a bacterial or fungal infection), a neurosurgeon may need to access the location and drain it.

Careful and precise neurologic imaging and lab testing is essential in addressing all of these needs, in order to identify the exact status of the spine and locations to which to direct medical and neurosurgical interventions.

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