What happens during spinal nerve decompression surgery?

Microvascular decompression surgery is performed on compressed nerves that cause pain or spasms, says Eric Sincoff, MD, from Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. Learn more in this video.

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During spinal nerve decompression surgery (a surgery to take pressure off compressed, or "pinched," nerves in your spine):

  1. An anesthesiologist will put you to sleep so you will not feel or remember the surgery. You will also be given antibiotics to help prevent infection.
  2. You will be placed on your stomach so the surgery can be done from your back, at or near your spine.
  3. The surgeon will make an incision (cut) in your back, and move muscle out of the way to expose your spine. The size of the incision depends on the conditions causing the nerve pressure, and how widespread those conditions are in your spine.
  4. The surgeon will remove the abnormal material that is causing the pressure on your spinal nerves. This may include bone, ligaments and other soft tissues.
  5. Surgery is usually done with the help of a microscope, which allows the surgeon to see and protect the nerves.
  6. If spinal nerve decompression is being done in combination with other procedures, such as a fusion, the other procedures will be completed before the wound is closed.
  7. When the surgeon is satisfied that all pressure on the nerves has been removed, the wound is closed with stitches or staples.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.