Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Thoracic Spine and Injuries

The thoracic spine is the least common place for spinal injury.  The number one place for spinal injury is the lumbar region (the lower back), the next is the cervical spine (the neck and extreme upper back), and the thoracic region (the middle back) is the least likely to injure.  Only 2% of spinal injuries are located in the thoracic region.  If a herniated (ruptured) disc does occur in the thoracic region, they will only operate on it if it's causing spinal myelopathy (spinal cord dysfunction), progressive neurologic deficits, or intolerable pain.  The reasoning for this is because the typical operation for a thoracic herniation is a thoracotomy.  A thoracotomy consists of the following:
  • The neurosurgeon makes an incision approximately 18 inches down the middle of your chest
  • The removal of a rib
  • The chest/ribcage is then pried open so that the surgeon can gain access to the damaged disc
  • The disc would then be removed and the surgeon would use "hardware" such as rods, screws, and plates to stabilize the affected area of the spine
This has been the way to repair a thoracic herniation.  The long-term fallout can be very severe, ranging from pneumonia to chronic pain to lung complications and extended recovery periods.  There is hope now, there is a new procedure that is extremely less invasive.  The following is a link to a testimony to that hope and progress.  I'm also posting a photo below of the an X-ray of the spine after this new procedure was performed.  #StayInformed

For Reference & More Information On New Thoracic Spinal Surgery Technique

X-ray of hardware used in this procedure.

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