Spine Surgery

Surgical treatment of spinal disorders can be grouped into three categories:

1 Decompression

This involves removing bony, ligamentous or disc pressure on the spinal cord or its associated nerve roots.

The most commonly performed decompressive procedures are a lumbar microdiscectomy (posterior or anterior), an anterior cervical discectomy and a lumbar laminectomy or decompression.

2 Removing abnormal spinal motion

There are two approaches to removing abnormal spinal motion.

One is to replace the degenerated intervertebral discs. The other is known as spinal fusion, where two or more blocks of the spine are fused to help maintain normal posture.

3 Realignment of the spine

Where the spine is curved (scoliosis) a spinal fusion can help realign and fuse the curved vertebrae so that they heal into a single, solid bone.

Preparing for surgery & procedure

1 Preparing for Surgery

Once you have your surgery details and treatment plan, you and your doctor will discuss how to best prepare, so you recover more quickly and decrease your risk of any problems. This may include:


  • Eating a well-balanced diet supplemented by a daily multivitamin with iron

  • Stopping or significantly reducing smoking

  • Losing weight, if safe, to help decrease the stress on your new joint.

  • Treating any tooth, gum, bladder or bowel problems before surgery to reduce the risk of infection later

  • Stopping aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications, warfarin or any drugs that increase the risk of bleeding, one week before surgery to minimise bleeding.


  • Arranging for someone to help with everyday tasks like cooking, shopping and laundry as you recover

  • Putting items you use often within easy reach before surgery, so you won’t have to reach and bend as often

  • Removing all loose carpets and taping down electrical cords to avoid falls

  • Making sure you have a stable chair with a firm seat cushion, a firm back and two arms

2 Working with your doctor

Here’s what you can expect from your doctor before your surgery:

  • A complete physical examination to make sure you don’t have any conditions that could interfere with the surgery or its outcome. Routine tests, such as blood tests and X-rays, are usually performed a week before any major surgery.

  • A review of any medications you’re taking and whether these should stop before surgery. You’ll also discuss options for potential blood replacement, including donating your blood beforehand, medical interventions and other treatments.

  • A review of any ongoing infections – it’s not safe to perform surgery until all infections have cleared up.

3 Instructions for post-surgery

Here’s how to stay safe and comfortable after your surgery:

  • Get help to go home. Make sure you have someone who can take you home – you won’t be able to drive for at least 24 hours.

  • Do not drink or eat anything in the car. The combination of anaesthesia, food and car motion can often cause nausea or vomiting.

  • Wait until you’re hungry before trying to eat. When you arrive home and feel hungry, start with a light meal and avoid greasy food for the first 24 hours.

  • Keep extremity elevated. If you had surgery on an extremity (leg, knee, hand or elbow), keep it elevated and use ice as directed. This will help decrease swelling and pain.

  • Take your pain medicine as directed. Begin the pain medicine as you start feeling uncomfortable, but before you are in severe pain. If you wait until the pain is severe, you will have more difficulty controlling it.


1 What should I bring with me when I come to an appointment?

You’ll need:

  • Your referral letter from your GP, family physician or other doctor

  • Your insurance information

  • Copies of operation records, medical records, X-rays, MRIs, CT scans from previous doctor visits

  • A progress letter if you’ve seen a physiotherapist

2 Are my medical records kept private and confidential?

Your medical file is handled securely and with the utmost respect for your privacy. Our staff are bound by strict confidentiality requirements as a condition of employment. We will not release any contents of your medical file without your consent.

3 What should I expect during my first visit?

  1. First, you’ll fill in a detailed health questionnaire before seeing Dr Ferguson for your consultation.

  2. During your consultation, he’ll do an examination and review any X-rays or other test results.

  3. He’ll then provide recommendations on your condition and together you’ll decide the best individual treatment plan.

  4. If you need surgery, Dr Ferguson will explain the specific procedure, what it involves and the benefits and risks. You’ll also meet with the practice nurse who will be with you after your operation.

  5. You should feel free to ask as many questions as you like at any point.

4 What are your business hours?

Monday – Friday, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.

Appointments can be at 09 475 6333.

To make an enquiry, contact us