Spinal stenosis results in a symmetric compression on the spinal nerves due to degeneration and overgrowth of the joints, ligaments, and bone spurs. Surgery to treat spinal stenosis often requires more extensive decompression than a simple microdiscectomy and is known as a Laminectomy.
Laminectomy is generally used only when more-conservative treatments — such as medication, physical therapy or injections — have failed to relieve symptoms. Laminectomy may also be recommended if symptoms are severe or worsening dramatically. This procedure involves “unroofing” the spinal canal by removing the bone, known as the lamina, and enlarged ligaments along the back of the spine. The arthritic facet joints are also shaved down to provide more room for the exiting spinal nerves.
Laminectomy is surgery to remove the lamina. This is part of the bone that makes up a vertebra in the spine. Laminectomy may also be done to remove bone spurs in your spine. The procedure can take pressure off your spinal nerves or spinal cord. Activities are limited to walking for the first several weeks following the operation. Physical therapy is often useful, initially involving stretching and range of motion exercises followed by endurance and strength training.
Laminectomy is often done to treat spinal stenosis. The procedure removes bones and damaged disks, and makes more room for your spinal nerve and column.
Your symptoms may be:
You and your doctor can decide when you need to have surgery for these symptoms. Spinal stenosis symptoms often become worse over time, but this may happen very slowly.
When your symptoms become more severe and interfere with your daily life or your job, surgery may help.
Risks of spine surgery are:
Before the Procedure
You may have an MRI or CT myelogram before the procedure to confirm that you have spinal stenosis.
Tell your doctor or nurse what medicines you are taking. This includes medicines, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.
During the days before the surgery:
On the day of the surgery:
Laminectomy opens up your spinal canal so your spinal nerves have more room. It may be done along with a discectomy, foraminotomy, and spinal fusion. You will be asleep and feel no pain.
After the Procedure
Your doctor or nurse will encourage you to get up and walk around as soon as the anesthesia wears off, if you did not also have spinal fusion. Most patients go home 1 – 3 days after their surgery.
Laminectomy for spinal stenosis often provides full or some relief of symptoms.
Decompressive laminectomy is successful in relieving leg pain in 70% of patients allowing significant improvement in function and markedly reduced level of pain and discomfort. However, back pain may not be relieved and 17% of older adults need another operation.
Laminectomy is a type of back surgery used to relieve compression on the spinal cord. It removes the lamina (part of the bone that forms the vertebral arch in the spine) and/or bone spurs. These structures can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots and cause:
A laminectomy is only used if your symptoms interfere with daily life. It is performed when less invasive treatments have failed.
The surgery is also called:
Laminectomy is often done to relieve the effects of spinal stenosis. In this condition, your spinal column narrows and puts pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. Spinal stenosis may be caused by:
A laminectomy is performed while you are under anesthesia. You may be asleep during the procedure (general anesthesia). You may be also be awake under spinal anesthesia. Either way, you will feel no pain during the procedure. An anesthesiologist will monitor you throughout the surgery.
During the surgery, your surgeon will generally:
During the procedure, your surgeon may also perform spinal fusion, in which two or more bones are connected in the back to better stabilize the spine, or foraminotomy, in which the area where the nerve roots go through the spine is widened.
Risks of spine surgery include:
Tell your healthcare provider if you:
Before the surgery, your healthcare provider may ask you to:
You should arrange for someone to pick you up and take you home after the surgery. You may also need to arrange for someone to help you around the house while you heal.
When you wake up after surgery, your healthcare provider will usually ask you to get up and walk around a bit. You will probably stay in the hospital for one to three days.
While you are recovering, you should:
While showering, do not scrub over the incision site. Do not apply any lotions or creams near the incision. Avoid bathtubs, hot tubs, and swimming pools until otherwise notified. These increase the risk of infection.
Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions on how to take care of your wound.
Call your healthcare provider immediately if you experience:
Laminectomy will often relieve many symptoms of spinal stenosis. It cannot prevent spine problems in the future, however. It may also not completely relieve pain in all patients.
Patients who also have a spinal fusion are more likely to have spinal problems in the future.
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