All Medical Procedures

Diskectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the damaged portion of a herniated disk in your spine. A herniated disk can irritate or compress nearby nerves and cause pain, numbness or weakness. These symptoms can affect your neck or back or may radiate down your arms or legs.

Diskectomy works best on radiating symptoms. It's less helpful for actual back pain or neck pain. Most people who have back pain or neck pain find relief with more-conservative treatments, such as pain medications or physical therapy.

Your doctor may suggest diskectomy if conservative, nonsurgical treatments haven't worked or if your symptoms worsen. There are several ways to perform a diskectomy. Many surgeons now prefer minimally invasive diskectomy, which uses small incisions and a tiny video camera for viewing.

Laminectomy is surgery that creates space by removing the lamina — the back part of the vertebra that covers your spinal canal. Also known as decompression surgery, laminectomy enlarges your spinal canal to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.

This pressure is most commonly caused by bony overgrowths within the spinal canal, which can occur in people who have arthritis in their spines.

Laminectomy is generally used only when more-conservative treatments — such as medication, physical therapy or injections — have failed to relieve symptoms. Laminectomy may also be recommended if symptoms are severe or worsening dramatically.

Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is performed in your lower back, in the lumbar region. During lumbar puncture, a needle is inserted between two lumbar bones (vertebrae) to remove a sample of cerebrospinal fluid — the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord to protect them from injury.

A lumbar puncture can help diagnose serious infections, such as meningitis; other disorders of the central nervous system, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome and multiple sclerosis; or cancers of the brain or spinal cord. Sometimes doctors use lumbar puncture to inject anesthetic medications or chemotherapy drugs into the cerebrospinal fluid.

Spinal fusion is surgery to permanently connect two or more vertebrae in your spine, eliminating motion between them.

Spinal fusion involves techniques designed to mimic the normal healing process of broken bones. During spinal fusion, your surgeon places bone or a bone-like material within the space between two spinal vertebrae. Metal plates, screws and rods may be used to hold the vertebrae together, so they can heal into one solid unit.

Because spinal fusion surgery immobilizes parts of your spine, it changes the way your spine can move. This places additional stress and strain on the vertebrae above and below the fused portion, and may increase the rate at which those areas of your spine degenerate.