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Overview of surgical techniques

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Overview of surgical techniques
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Strange as it may seem, the objectives that a spinal surgeon wants to achieve in the treatment of spinal disorders are surprisingly few and very simple. There are only four - and in fact these are the only objectives that can be achieved.

1. Freedom From Pain

First, the surgeon wants to achieve freedom from spinal pain. This is the commonest cause of trouble within the spine and is most commonly due to mechanical problems.

2. Freedom From Neurological Compromise

Second, the surgeon wants to achieve freedom from neurological impairment or compromise, both immediately and also in the future.

3. Stability

Third, the surgeon wants to achieve stability of the spine.

4. Make a Pathological Diagnosis

Fourth, when needed, the surgeon wants to make a pathological diagnosis - is the problem mechanical, or is it for example an infection or a tumour? Treatment of the spinal disorder will then clearly involve treatment of that underlying condition as well.

However, where as the objectives of surgical treatment - and its limitations - are simple, the means whereby we achieve these objectives are exceedingly complex. This is in fact the bulk of the subject matter of learned text books, which I will not attempt to reproduce here. However, it pays all - patients, even clinicians - to remember these four very simple principles.

 Usually, freedom from neurological compromise, spinal stability and the treatment of the underlying pathological process will result in freedom from pain.