Pain-free function of the spine requires that the spine is in proper alignment. The natural alignment of the spine includes lordosis of the lower spine and neck, a gentle inward curve, are set in balance against the kyphosis of the middle spine to produce a harmonious balancing of your body’s center of gravity over the pelvis. In cases where the spine is out of balance, whether from a loss of lordosis or severe kyphosis, an osteotomy may be deemed appropriate for restoring the proper curvature of the spine.
Osteotomies will often provide a significant degree of correction to a misaligned spine, though in severe cases multiple osteotomies may be necessary to achieve the desired correction. When preparing for your osteotomy there are a few things that may be necessary. If you are a smoker, cessation of this habit will greatly enhance the possibility of your osteotomy being successful, as nicotine impedes the body’s ability to achieve proper fusion. Other considerations may be necessary, and you should discuss your present lifestyle with Dr. Peelle when considering an osteotomy, including any medications you’re presently taking.
Patients tend to remain in the hospital for 5-7 days following the surgery and will be sent home with the necessary equipment to aid in a speedy recovery. This often includes pain medication to help manage the pain from the surgery, as well as a collar if the surgery was done on the neck. Dr. Peelle will advise that you begin walking as soon as you are able, and to maintain a frequent walking regimen to help strengthen the back. Physical therapy will be a significant portion of your recovery plan. If you have concerns about any long-term limitations, discuss them with Dr. Peelle.
1. When is an Osteotomy performed?
Osteotomies are performed to correct spinal alignment in cases where the lower spine has flattened in a condition known as flat-back syndrome, or the kyphosis of the thoracic spine has become over-exaggerated. This condition is known as a sagittal imbalance, causing a number of symptoms that can include fatigue, pain, and in severe cases compression of the lungs and heart.
2. How is an osteotomy performed?
During an osteotomy the patient will be placed under general anesthesia, meaning the patient will be unconscious for the duration of the surgery. Dr. Peelle will begin by making an incision over the spine that will expose the spinal column, inserting screws in the vertebrae adjacent to the bone to be removed. Portions of the bones will then be removed and a realignment is done, with rods being put in place to help secure the spine along with implants to achieve the desired correction.
3. How much correction can I expect from an osteotomy?
Typically a single osteotomy will result in 10-20 degrees of correction in the positioning of the spine. However, this can vary depending on the severity of the case and whether multiple osteotomies are needed to correct the spinal misalignment. In severe cases, multiple osteotomies will be needed to achieve the desired degree of correction.