A tethered spinal cord can cause an abnormal stretching of the spinal cord leading to possible nerve damage, pain and other symptoms. However, the good news is that a tethered spinal cord is a very treatable condition, especially when diagnosed and treated early.
The most common treatment for tethered spinal cord is a lumbar laminectomy to release the tethered cord. For this procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the lower back to expose the site where the spinal cord is pinned, then frees it by releasing the stuck portion of the cord. The neurosurgeon may also repair any developmental abnormality during this operation.
The surgery typically takes about four hours, but often takes longer as the neurosurgeon works to remove the adhesion. Surgery may be complicated and is always accompanied by careful neurophysiological monitoring to minimize damage to nerves.
There is a risk that the spinal cord may become re-tethered at a later time, so ongoing monitoring is necessary.
At 18 months post-op, 47 per cent of patients had improved urinary symptoms, 69 per cent had improved lower extremity weakness and gait, and 79 per cent had decreased painful dysesthesias.
The average cost of this procedure is around USD 5,309, but it can go much higher.