Many spinal conditions respond well to surgical treatment. In properly selected patients, surgery provides relief of symptoms, returns function, halts neurological damage, and achieves or restores spinal stability for most patients. At the Och Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute of New York, we pride ourselves on providing our patients with clear explanations and the best possible surgical outcomes. The highly trained neurosurgeons in our practice continue a long tradition of expertise, skill, and care, which consistently places them among the top neurosurgeons in the country.

However, surgery is not the treatment of choice for every patient with every condition. The experienced neurosurgeons at the Och Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute evaluate each case individually and will tailor a nonsurgical or surgical treatment plan to each patient. To read more about a particular condition and its general treatment options, have a look at our conditions pages.


Names of surgical procedures often include terms related to anatomy (body structure) or surgery. Understanding those terms can help patients make sense of the name of a surgical procedure.

Below are some common anatomical and surgical terms used in procedures performed at the Spine Hospital. 


  • Posterior: toward the back of something. A posterior surgical approach is through the back. The posterior portion of the spine is the rear portion.
  • Anterior: toward the front of something. An anterior surgical approach is through the front. The anterior portion of the spine is the front portion.
  • Cervical: the portion of the spine in the neck
  • Thoracic: the portion of the spine in the upper and mid-back
  • Lumbar: the portion of the spine in the lower back
  • Sacral: the base of the spine, in the pelvis
  • Disc: the intervertebral disc, the “cushion” between vertebrae
  • Lamina: a section of vertebra that covers the back of the spinal canal. Sometimes called the “roof” of the spinal canal, the lamina is often removed to decompress the spinal cord or gain access to the spinal canal. A laminectomy removes all or part of the lamina.
  • Corp-: a prefix that refers to the vertebral body (from the Latin corpus, or body). A corpectomy removes all or part of the vertebral body.
  • Pedicle: a section of the vertebra that joins the vertebral arch to the vertebral body. Pedicles are thick and strong. Screws called pedicle screws are often inserted here to hold other hardware in place.


  • Fusion: Implanting a bone graft (transplant) and encouraging it to grow together with bone in the area. The result of good fusion is a very strong, stable section of spine.
  • Fixation: Using hardware like plates, screws, rods, wires, and/or cages to hold the bones in a certain position while they fuse.
  • -ectomy: Removing something. A discectomy removes all or part of a spinal disc. A laminectomy removes all or part of the lamina.
  • -otomy: Cutting into something. An osteotomy cuts into the bone (osteo- means bone).
  • -plasty: Reshaping something. A laminoplasty reshapes the lamina.
  • Resection: Removing something, especially a tumor.
  • Minimally invasive: Surgical procedures that use specialized equipment and techniques to minimize incisions and other tissue disruption. See our overview of minimally invasive surgery here.