Posterior thoracic discectomy is a technique to remove herniated discs of the thoracic spine. Such cases are rare, and challenging giving the complex anatomy and sensitivity of the spinal cord.

It is a great option for patients who are experiencing thoracic myelopathy, or weakness, numbness, tingling, and problems walking as a result of a disc herniation affecting the thoracic spinal cord.


Having Posterior Thoracic Discectomy and Fusion

During surgery, your surgeon will place you face down on a special operating table.

Using fluoroscopy, the exact area is identified, and an incision is made. Your soft tissues and muscles are carefully dissected and retracted off the spine.

Oftentimes, pedicle screws are placed above and below to help provide stability to the spine.

At the area of concern, a laminectomy is first performed. Then, portions of your rib, transverse process, and pedicle are exposed and removed.

By doing this, your surgeon gains access to the disc without disrupting your spinal cord, allowing for safe resection of the herniated disc.

The screws are then connected with rods, and bone graft is placed laterally to promote fusion.


How Posterior Thoracic Discectomy and Fusion Works

In patients with thoracic disc herniations placing pressure on the cord, spinal cord function is compromised.

By removing the offending agent, in this case the disc, we can prevent worsening of spinal cord function, and in many cases, improve strength and mobility afterwards, when combined with aggressive physical therapy and rehabilitation.


Recovering From Posterior Thoracic Discectomy and Fusion

Patients typically spend 1-3 days in the hospital after surgery. We encourage sitting up in a chair, and walking as much as possible.

Oftentimes, we have the physical therapists work with patients while in the hospital to work on strategies for adjusting their activities as they recover.

We ask patients not to bend or twist excessively for that first month of healing.

We do, however, encourage plentiful walking and sitting or standing upright to engage the muscles in your neck to promote healing.

After the initial four weeks, we begin formal physical therapy on an outpatient basis.

You should return to full functioning by 3-6 months.


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