When To Consider Facet Surgery

What is Facet Surgery?

Facet syndrome surgery, also referred to as facet disease surgery, is usually performed in certain situations when conservative treatment has been fully pursued and symptoms remain debilitating. Since nonsurgical treatments are typically very effective in managing the symptoms of facet syndrome, many patients do not require surgery. For those who have exhausted conservative treatments, surgical intervention can provide a chance for overcoming the symptoms of a degenerative spine condition like facet syndrome. 

If you’ve already tried conservative treatment and have not found relief from your facet syndrome symptoms, you may be a candidate for spine surgery. It’s important to understand that there are many different types of spine surgery available, so you should research your options in order to make an informed decision about your treatment.

Open Back Surgery

One surgical option for patients who have been diagnosed with facet syndrome is traditional open spine surgery. This type of surgery is performed in a traditional hospital setting and a patient should expect to remain hospitalized for several days after the procedure for observation. 

During an open spine procedure, a large initial incision must be made and the surrounding muscles, ligaments and other soft tissues that help support the neck or back must be carefully cut to allow the surgical team access to the deteriorated facet joint. Depending on the extent of the facet joint issue, the vertebral segment might be stabilized using bone grafts and surgical implants to prevent painful joint movement in the future. Following surgery, the entry point is closed and the patient begins the recovery process. 

The inherent difficulty with traditional open spine surgery is that it is major surgery and, as with any form of major surgery, there is a risk of postsurgical complications. Furthermore, the nature of the open spine approach is highly invasive, which means that even if the surgery is a complete success, the patient will have a relatively lengthy recovery and rehabilitation process to get back to full strength. In some instances, including situations where spinal degeneration is severe or spread across several segments of the spine, open spine facet syndrome surgery is the prudent choice. However, for many other patients, there is another direction that warrants exploration.

Minimally Invasive Surgical Alternatives

At BEST Health System, we are the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery. Our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis and involve a reduced risk of surgical complications and a shorter recovery time than traditional open neck or back surgery. This is because our surgeons use muscle-sparing techniques, limiting disruption of the soft tissue around the neck or back.

For patients with facet syndrome and other forms of spinal degeneration, BEST may recommend one of the following procedures:

  • Foraminotomy — a procedure that is designed to relieve pressure on nerves as they enter and exit the spinal column
  • Laminotomy — designed to reduce pressure on the spinal cord that develops as a result of a narrowing of the spinal canal, also known as spinal stenosis
  • Discectomy — a procedure to carefully remove herniated disc material or a bulging disc wall to relieve nerve compression
  • Facet thermal ablation — a type of facet syndrome surgery that deadens the nerve within a facet joint that has become inflamed as a result of facet arthritis 

Stabilization Surgery for Facet Syndrome

Additionally, BEST Health System specializes in minimally invasive stabilization surgery for patients whose facet syndrome has advanced to the point that the stability of a vertebral segment is at risk. Some examples of the stabilization procedures we offer include:

  • Decompression with Interlaminar Stabilization Device — a device is placed on the lamina to open up a constricted foramen in order to decompress a spinal nerve root
  • Anterior cervical discectomy fusion — a small incision is made through the front of the neck to access a damaged disc, which is replaced with an implant, such as bone graft material or a damaged disc
  • Cervical disc replacement — a minimally invasive procedure wherein a deteriorated disc is substituted with a new artificial disc
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion — a bone graft and spacer is inserted into disc space to maintain disc height and stabilize the region of the spine
  • Lateral lumbar interbody fusion — a procedure that accesses the spine from an incision on the side of the body to avoid the need to separate low back muscles and other tissue
  • SI joint fusion — a surgery that stabilizes the area where the sacrum joints meet the pelvis in the lower torso
  • Posterior cervical fusion — a cervical fusion surgery that is performed through the back of the neck to achieve stabilization 

While these procedures vary widely in style and approach, the unifying theme is that they are all performed in an outpatient surgery center by surgeons who have dedicated their careers to minimally invasive spine surgery. These operations represent a compelling alternative to open spine surgery.

Facet Syndrome Surgery with BEST Health System

BEST Health System is proud to be the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery. Our medical professionals are experienced in helping patients find effective relief. Are you ready to begin your path toward recovery? Contact BEST today.