The back part of your spinal vertebrae is called your lamina, and it provides a cover for your spinal canal. Sometimes bony overgrowths can occur in your vertebrae which can put abnormal pressure on your spinal canal or nearby nerves. When this occurs, a skilled surgeon can perform a laminectomy to remove a part of the lamina to decompress the pressurized area. Here’s a basic rundown of the procedure.
A laminectomy can be used to address a number of different problems, but many people need the procedure if bony overgrowths develop in their spinal canal as a result of arthritis. Additionally, a surgeon may recommend the procedure if you’re suffering from a herniated disc, as the removal of the lamina may aid in the ability to access the damaged disc.
In the vast majority of cases, a laminectomy is not the first option. A good doctor will see how you respond to conservative treatment before considering surgery. If conservative options like exercise, anti-inflammatory medications, nerve blocks or corticosteroid injections can help relieve the compression or quiet the damaged nerves, you won’t need to go under the knife. However, if conservative options fail to relieve pain, or if you’re dealing with severe symptoms like difficulty walking or going to the bathroom, your doctor may suggest a laminectomy.
A laminectomy is considered a very safe procedure, but all surgeries carry some risk. Some rare complications include bleeding, blood clots, infection, nerve injury or a leaking of spinal fluid.
In the days leading up to your surgery, you’ll want to be considerate of what you eat. Make sure you get a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, as these will ensure your body has a good source of vitamins and nutrients prior to the operation. You will also need to fast for some hours leading up to your surgery. Your surgeon will tell you exactly how many hours you’ll need to avoid eating or drinking leading up to your procedure during one of your surgical consultations.
The operation is usually performed with the assistance of general anesthesia, so you’ll be lying on unconscious on your stomach during the procedure. The surgeon will begin by making a small incision on your back over the affected vertebrae and using tools to move the muscles of the back so that the vertebrae can be accessed. The surgeon will then remove part of the lamina to make room for the compressed structures underneath. If the procedure is being done to address a herniated disc, the surgeon will also remove a portion of the damaged disc or any loose fragments. Once removed, the muscles are guided back in place, the surgical instruments are removed, and the surgical site is closed with staples or stitches.
St. Paul Laminectomy Spine Surgeon
You may be able to go home the same day as the operation if your doctor grants you clearance. You’ll likely be prescribed a pain medication to deal with any discomfort you might experience in the short-term, and eventually you’ll be given a physical therapy plan to assist in your rehab. You’ll have to limit your physical activity for a short while, but you should be able to return to your job within a couple of weeks of the operation as long as you don’t have a labor intensive job.
For more information about the procedure, contact Dr. Chang’s office today.