In advanced cases of ankylosing spondylitis, corrective spinal surgery may become necessary. A spine specialist may recommend surgery in cases where the spine has become deformed in a fixed flexed (forward) position that makes day-to-day activities difficult. Other criteria for surgery include spinal instability and neuropathy (nerve damage that causes weakness, pain, or tingling in the arms or legs).
What does it involve?
Your doctor may order a complete physical, blood tests, or other diagnostic procedures to ensure that you are in good condition for surgery.
Once your spinal surgery is scheduled, spend the weeks before surgery preparing by eating nutritious meals and staying as active as possible. Stop or cut down your smoking, and limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages to one or two per day. Being in top condition for surgery will shorten your recovery time and help prevent complications.
You will be given instructions to stop eating several hours before surgery. When you arrive at the hospital, vital signs will be taken, and blood may be drawn. Before surgery, you will receive an intravenous (IV) line. You will receive a spinal block or general anesthesia to make you sleep.
Several types of surgical techniques may be performed on people with ankylosing spondylitis. Depending on your symptoms, age, the severity of your spinal deformity, and other factors, the surgeon may perform one or more techniques during your surgery. In an osteotomy, deformed bone is cut to correct abnormal angles. If nerves are being compressed, the surgeon may perform a laminectomy or another type of decompression. Laminectomy removes part of a vertebra to create more space and relieve pressure on the nerves. In cases of spinal instability or when bone has been removed during other procedures, the surgeon may utilize spinal instrumentation and fusion, stabilizing the spine with rods, wires, or screws.
Depending on your condition and the surgical technique used, you may spend one or more nights in the hospital recovering from spinal surgery. The nurse or doctor will explain how to care for your wound. You will be encouraged to sit up and even walk soon after surgery. You may need to wear a brace during recovery.
You may undergo physical therapy while still in the hospital and continue after you return home.
Spine surgery can reduce pain and restore function, making it possible to return to performing normal daily tasks.
Spinal surgery can provide significant improvements in pain, function, and quality of life for those with severe spondylitis.
Any surgery carries risks including blood clots, blood loss, infection, breathing problems, reactions to medication, and heart attack or stroke during the surgery.
Rare but serious complications specific to spinal surgery can include spinal cord injury, ongoing pain, hardware fracture, implant migration, sexual dysfunction, and transitional syndrome, wherein the segment of the spine adjacent to the repaired portion takes on more stress and becomes injured.
Spine surgery can be painful, and you will most likely need pain medication for some weeks during recovery.
Call your doctor immediately if you notice signs of infection such as swelling, redness, increased pain, or bleeding from the surgical wound.
You may require revision surgery if you experience complications from your spinal surgery.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Surgery for Ankylosing Spondylitis – SpineUniverse
Complications of Spine Surgery – University of Maryland Medical Center