Lumbar Laminectomy – Purpose, Expectations and Benefits
A lumbar laminectomy is a type of surgical procedure that is performed to remove all or parts of the lamina, a section of bone that forms the vertebral “roof” in the spine. During this procedure, bone spurs may also be removed in the lower back as these particular structures can apply pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. When the spinal cord and nerve roots are compressed, back pain is often the result. The procedure is quite common, though it is usually only recommended if symptoms are interfering with daily life and non-surgical treatment options have failed.
What is the Purpose of a Lumbar Laminectomy?
Spinal stenosis is typically the reason a lumbar laminectomy may be recommended. This condition involves the narrowing of the spinal column, which can compress the spinal cord and nerves, causing symptoms that can be felt in the back, in addition to other areas of the body. Compression of these tissues in the lower back may lead to the following symptoms:
- Pain, numbness or weakness in one or both legs.
- Numbness in the buttocks, pelvic area and inner thighs.
- Loss of bowel and/or bladder control.
While the main purpose for this procedure is to relieve compression on the spine, a lumbar laminectomy may also be performed to remove tumors, vascular malformations or to treat tethered cord syndrome.
What to Expect with a Lumbar Laminectomy Procedure
If less invasive treatment options such as medicine or physical therapy have not provided relief for the painful symptoms of spinal stenosis, a doctor may recommend a lumbar laminectomy as the next step. If this is the case, read on to learn more information about what to expect before, during and after this procedure:
- Before the Procedure: Prior to surgery, a doctor may recommend that patients give up smoking, stop taking certain medications such as blood thinners and avoid eating or drinking after midnight the evening before the appointment. Additionally, it’s important to arrange a ride to and from the clinic before undergoing the procedure.
- During the Procedure: The procedure can be performed under local or general anesthesia. The surgical site will be cleaned and prepped to prevent infection where a small incision is made in your back. Various tissue is then moved aside to expose the affected part of the spine where the lamina bones, bone spurs and any disc fragments are removed. In some cases, a spinal fusion may be necessary to stabilize the spine but otherwise, the incision is closed following the removal of the lamina, with stitches and covered with sterile bandages.
- After the Procedure: Patients are transported to a recovery room after the procedure for monitoring. While some patients may be discharged on the same day as surgery, most will be observed over the course of 1-3 days. It is normal to feel pain in the area where the surgery took place and medication will be administered to help relieve these symptoms. During recovery, avoid strenuous activities and follow all instructions from the doctor. If there are any signs of fever, infection or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider immediately.
The Benefits of a Lumbar Laminectomy
When initial attempts to relieve the symptoms of nerve compression fail, it can feel extremely discouraging. Fortunately, a lumbar laminectomy can help not only to relieve pain but also provide a number of other benefits such as:
- Provides significant back pain relief and increased mobility
- Eliminates radiating nerve pain
- Smaller incisions leave minimal scarring
- Preserves more tissue and bone structure than open surgery
- Reduced healing time and high success rates
- Provides the opportunity for a higher quality of life
A lumbar laminectomy can provide patients with meaningful relief. At Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic, our team of surgeons has years of experience treating various spinal disorders. For the past 20 years we have performed laminectomies using tubular retractors, endoscopes, lasers, and microscopes. Patients benefit from this muscle sparing approach which allows them to experience faster recovery and less post-operative pain. The operation can be performed with moderate sedation. Talk to Dr. Adam Lewis who can determine if this procedure is right for you. If not, we can help you find alternative solutions to meet your needs.
Contact us today to learn more about lumbar laminectomy or to schedule a consultation. We’ll find a solution that works for you! Call us at (601) 366-1011.