UM BWMC neurosurgeons have completed advanced surgical training to treat patients who have a wide variety of brain, neck and spine conditions. They use the latest techniques and technology to perform both routine and highly complex procedures.

If your doctor determines that surgical treatment is right for you, our neurosurgeons will perform your procedure in UM BWMC's state-of-the-art surgical suite. The high-tech operating rooms include a spinal navigation system that enables surgeons to get detailed views of the spine and perform complex spine and brain procedures. The rooms also feature multiple high-definition monitors, where surgeons can see the surgical site, images like CT scans, vital signs and even live microscopic pictures from pathology.

Common surgical procedures that treat brain, neck and spine conditions include:

  • Shunts – in cases of hydrocephalus and other conditions that cause chronic increased intracranial pressure, a one-way valve or shunt is used to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid from the brain and carry it to other parts of the body. This valve usually sits outside the skull, but beneath the skin, somewhere behind the ear. Our neurosurgeons place brain and lumbar shunts to relieve pressure on the brain.
  • Hemilaminoforaminotomy - also known as keyhole laminectomy. A small opening is made on one side of the spinal lamina to allow the surgeon access to the spinal nerve. Very carefully, the opening where the nerve comes out of the spine is enlarged to relieve the pressure on the nerve that's been causing pain, numbness, tingling and weakness of the extremities.
  • Laminectomy - the entire lamina bone is removed from the back of the spine to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and the spinal nerves. Because additional support for the spine is needed in the area where the bone was removed, a mixture of the patients own bone and biological "cement" is used along the sides of the spine, or we will place metal rods and screws affixed to the spine to provide stability. This will relieve any weakness, pain, numbness or tingling of the extremities.
  • Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion - an incision is made on the front of the neck. The herniated disc is removed and a piece of bone is placed in the area to maintain the space between the vertebrae. Then a plate is placed in front of the disc space and attached with screws to hold the piece of bone in place. In time, the body will fuse the vertebral bones together to form a solid union. This procedure is performed to relieve pain in the neck and numbness, tingling and weakness of the upper extremities.
  • Craniotomy - any surgery of the brain where the surgeon needs to gain access to the brain by entering the skull. This procedure can be performed for many disorders of the brain, including bleeding in the brain, tumors or infections.
  • Spinal fusion – a surgical procedure that stabilizes spinal bones. It is used to correct problems with the small bones of the spine by fusing together the painful vertebrae so that they heal into a single, solid bone.

What to Expect Before and After Surgery

Neuro Spine ORIf surgical intervention is required you will be provided with additional information regarding dates and times during your visit. All patients are required to have pre-surgical testing prior to surgery to include history and physical, lab work, EKGs, and x-rays. Additional testing may be required for patients with other medical concerns.

The length of your hospital stay depends on the surgical procedure being performed. Generally, for brain cases, the hospital stay is three days to include time in the intensive care unit for close monitoring. For neck and back cases, the hospital stay is anywhere from one to three days.

Patients who have spinal surgery are instructed not to bend, lift or twist immediately after surgery. Some patients may be required to attend rehab or physical therapy, or wear a neck or back brace depending on the surgical procedure performed. Depending on the type of surgery you have, you may be out of work anywhere from 2 weeks to 12 weeks.

All patients come back in for post-operative visits with a member of our clinical team 10 days after surgery, then 30 days, 60 days, and finally 90 days. This allows us to monitor your progress, answer your questions, support your individual needs and ensure you have a safe and steady recovery.

Patients who have a neurosurgical procedure should avoid physical activity and driving a car until you are cleared by your doctor. Your 10-day post-operative visit will reveal if you’re ready to engage in any physical activity and/or drive a vehicle.

To make an appointment at the Spine and Neuroscience Center, call 410-553-8160.