The dorsal vertebrae are also known as the thoracic vertebrae and consist of 12 bones that form the upper and middle back portion of the spine. The cervical vertebrae and the lumbar bones make up the remaining flexible vertebral bones of the spine. The thoracic vertebrae supports the ribcage where the heart and lung are located and are very stable, offering minimal movement. However, this region forms the main support for activities including twisting and bending, so herniated discs and spinal stenosis can sometimes occur here.

The spinal column is also at its narrowest in the thoracic bones and hence susceptible to greater risk of injury if there is trauma to the thoracic bones. Of the over 90% of people suffering from back pain at one point or the other in their lifetime, about 20% of these people have issues with their thoracic vertebral spine.

If there is injury to the thoracic spine and conservative therapy like anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, physiotherapy and rest do not help in reducing the pain, then thoracic or dorsal spine surgery may be considered. While surgery can be effective in alleviating pain, it should only be considered when other non-surgical methods have failed.

Conditions that could require dorsal spine surgery include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Tumors of the dorsal spine
  • Herniated disc
  • Kyphosis
  • Scoliosis
  • Infections of the spine (tuberculosis)
  • Compression fractures
  • Spondylolisthesis

The different types of spine problems require varying types of surgical techniques to correct them. Commonly employed surgical procedures performed within the thoracic spine include:

  • Mini-thoracotomy
  • Laminectomy
  • Fusion surgery

One common factor between all dorsal spine surgeries is that they take longer to heal. This is by virtue of the fact that surgery might involve various levels of manipulation of the rib cage as well as major organs in the abdomen. Compared to other spinal surgeries, dorsal spine surgery patients take a little longer to get back to their normal activities. This is also why dorsal spine surgery is recommended when all other non-surgical modules have been exhausted.

Surgery becomes imminent when there is significant destruction of the dorsal vertebra leading to instability and compression of the spinal column with resulting pain. Techniques involved are quite intricate and are performed in conjunction with a thoracic surgeon. Three commonly used surgical approaches include:

  • Transthoracic approach
  • Posterior approach with stabilization
  • Combination approach of the two methods

The Sita Bhateja Specialty Hospital at Bangalore offers a state-of-the-art operating theatre complex with a world-class ICU and a new physiotherapy and rehabilitation centre. And when these facilities are paired up with the formidable team of surgical experts in this hospital, you know you are in the best hands possible.

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