Outpatient Spine Surgery in Chicago

Outpatient Spine Surgery in ChicagoOur back carries our weight, helps us move, and is subjected to bending, stretching, and other movements on a daily basis. That’s why the spine is prone to injuries, disorders, and other occurrences that limit a person’s mobility and affect the overall quality of life. Standard treatments recommended by a healthcare provider are quite efficient and in most cases, the patient doesn’t need surgery. However, sometimes these conservative treatments don’t work, and the surgery is a last resort. We can categorize all procedures performed on spine in two groups: inpatient and outpatient surgeries; this article discusses the latter.

What is outpatient spine surgery?

Outpatient spine surgery is defined as any procedure that enables patients to leave the hospital the same day when the operation is completed and go home. On the other hand, inpatient surgery requires patients to spend at least two days in the hospital.

With the evolution of technology, science, and medicine, outpatient procedures became more efficient and widely used. In fact, some doctors prefer outpatient surgeries due to the fact they’re usually minimally invasive. Unlike open, invasive procedures, minimally invasive operations don’t require a large incision and there is a lower risk of complications, infections, pain. It’s needless to mention that minimally invasive operations don’t leave a big scar.

Outpatient surgery is quicker, easier, and cost-effective. Plus, a patient reaches full recovery faster than in inpatient procedure. During the procedures, the patient is under general anesthesia, meaning he/she sleeps the entire time.

Who needs outpatient spine surgery?

It’s important to bear in mind that although outpatient surgery is highly effective and widely used, this type of spine procedure doesn’t apply to all cases. For example, more severe injuries or disorder need a more invasive approach. Thus inpatient operation poses as the practical solution.

Based on the severity of your condition, the efficacy of other treatments, preferences, and other factors your doctor will recommend the ideal surgical option for you. The healthcare provider will also take into consideration other factors such as your weight, whether you have some other medical condition, home support system (family and friends), and your expectations. Having strong support system at home matters a lot because you’ll still have to do physical therapy, rest, and avoid strenuous activities for a few months.

When it comes to recovery, you should bear in mind it depends on the type of procedure and patient as well. Each patient recovers at different rates. While some people reach full recovery in 6 weeks, others need more time. It’s crucial to stick to physical therapy and follow doctor’s orders strictly.

Below, you can see some common outpatient spine procedures.

Lumbar discectomy

Lumbar discectomy is the first spine-related surgery that was performed as an outpatient procedure. The primary goal of this operation is to eliminate the herniated portion of the lumbar disc. The method is effective and has a high success rate, particularly in relieving sciatica or leg pain that occurs when a herniated disc starts pressing the nerve.

Lumbar discectomy performed in outpatient basis includes two options: microdiscectomy and percutaneous and endoscopic discectomy.


Using this method, the surgeon can minimize the extent of the procedure and tissue damage risk by using a standard incision of 1 to 1.5 inches. This is a minimally invasive procedure and unlike the open surgery, here the surgeon doesn’t cut surrounding ligaments and muscles. Instead, they are spread. That’s why post-operative pain is very tolerable. By removing part of the disc that is pressing the nerve, in most cases, the pre-operative radiculopathy pain diminishes, and a vast majority of patients feel an immediate improvement in leg pain.

Percutaneous and endoscopic discectomy

These are two non-invasive procedures whose purpose is disc removal, and they are performed through one or more thin tubes that are inserted into the lower back. The tubes enable the surgeon to approach the affected disc without damaging surrounding tissues. The incision for each tube is quite small, only a few millimeters long, which is why a patient experiences minimal incisional pain.

Outpatient lumbar laminectomy

The procedure is performed to address lumbar spinal stenosis when compression of the spinal nerve roots in the lower back region causes pain. The surgeon uses small retractors, magnification, and other tools to remove bone spurs and/or enlarged ligaments. For patients who meet all criteria for outpatient spine surgery, the level of satisfaction and success is high after this operation.

Posterior cervical foraminotomy/discectomy

Just like in lumbar discectomy and laminectomy, the surgeon uses certain tools to approach the cervical disc herniation or foraminal narrowing. These two procedures have important differences that you can see below.

Cervical discectomy:

  • Disc herniation should be located to the side of cervical spine or near the foramen
  • In instances when disc is located more centrally, the risk linked to moving the cord away from the disc is high. In this case, the surgeon might opt for another approach to minimize the chance of spinal cord injury in a patient

Lumbar discectomy:

  • Spinal cord travels down the spine, but it branches into individual nerves and leaves the spinal canal. This means the spinal cord doesn’t go through the lumbar spine. This allows the surgeon to perform the procedure without concern about spinal cord damage. Also, this is the reason why spine-related operations are always more tolerated in the lumbar region.


Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF)

This operation is used to treat the cervical disc pathology, a common cause of pain in neck, shoulders, arms, and hands. The procedure itself has multiple steps, but it is minimally invasive and doesn’t leave a big scar. In fact, ACDF requires an incision that is long between 1 and 2 inches. The blood loss is minimal, and surrounding muscles and tissues are gently pushed away. Postoperative neck pain is tolerable.



Outpatient spine surgery is frequently performed and the efficacy of these procedures is ever-increasing due to advances in fields of medicine, science, and technology. These operations are less expensive than those carried out in the inpatient setting, they carry fewer risks, and the recovery time is faster.