Laminectomy is a form of back surgery that aims to relieve pressure from the spinal cord, one of the reasons why this procedure also goes by the name Decompression Surgery. The medical procedure enlarges the spine by surgically removing the ‘lamina’, a part of the vertebral arch present in the spine, which in turn creates a space in the spinal canal.
Indications for Laminectomy
A Laminectomy is often performed if the doctors diagnose spinal stenosis which is a condition where the spinal column starts to narrow down, putting immense pressure on the cord. This condition may commonly arise due to:
- Trauma or injury to the spine
- Congenital birth defect
- Arthritis (mostly affecting senior adults)
- Age when the spine discs start shrinking
- Slipped Disc
- Spinal tumor
However; do note, a laminectomy is only recommended when the symptoms start interfering with your every day life and when other non-invasive treatment methods such as medication or physical exercises have failed to relieve the symptoms.
Types of Laminectomy
Primarily there are two types of Decompressive Laminectomy widely performed and they are-
- Lumbar Laminectomy
- Cervical Laminectomy
Preparation for a Laminectomy Surgery
You need to keep these 4 main pointers in mind. Additionally, your doctor or surgeon may recommend some additional measures, if needed.
- The first step to preparation is to disclose the full scope of your medical history to your doctor. This includes medications that you used to/ currently intake along with alternative physical disorders that you are being treated for.
- Avoid nicotine (smoking) or blood thinners (aspirin / alcohol) at least 48 hours before the surgery or whatever time frame your doctor recommends.
- DO NOT eat or drink anything on the evening/night before the day of the surgery
- In the long-term view, arrange for someone to help you after the surgery, be it at home or in the institution. You might need someone to help you with your household errands and everyday lifestyle as a part of your post-surgery recovery. Please arrange for that before going into surgery.
What to expect during the Laminectomy Surgery
The first thing to keep in mind about this surgery is that, you will be under anesthesia throughout the duration of the surgery. Your anesthesiologist may recommend spinal surgery instead of general, but there will be NO PAIN involved during the procedure.
Now, to get into details, let us break down the surgery steps so that you can understand the procedure better.
Step 1: After cleaning the surgical area, your surgeon will make a small incision right in the middle of your back and neck. Once the soft tissues and muscles are pulled to the side, your surgeon will get a better view of the spinal region.
Step 2: Your surgeon will now surgically cut and remove the excess tissues, bones or bone spurs that are compressing the nerve. Based on your condition, the surgeon may remove a part of several parts of the spinal bone to relieve the compression.
Step 3 (Not Mandatory): Based on the patient’s condition, your surgeon may opt for a Laminectomy with fusion in which an implant is used to stabilize or support the lower back bones. If Laminectomy and fusion is not needed, patients will move on to Step 4 directly.
Step 4: Once the excess bone spurs are cut and removed, your surgeon release the tissues and muscles back in place, stitch up the incision, and clean the area before using a sterile bandage to cover it.
Even though rare, a Laminectomy surgery may involve a few complications such as:
- Blood clot
- Surgical infection
- Cerebrospinal fluid leak
- Spinal nerve damage
Patients are usually monitored and examined for complications and if any arises, your surgeon or doctor will help you with the complication.
Laminectomy risks often include:
- Reaction to certain medications post laminectomy
- Return of the chronic pain after surgery
- Breathing difficulties
- Tenderness or sensitivity in your legs
- Blood loss
- High fever
- Urination difficulty
- Chest pain
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, we recommend your get in touch with the best Laminectomy doctor in India.
Post-surgery care & caution
Whether you’re an in-patient or an out-patient, your doctor will monitor your movement and symptom patterns for the first 2-3 days of the surgery. (This is not applicable for patients who have undergone laminectomy with fusion)
General post-procedure recovery measures include:
- Avoiding physical strain caused by activities, exercises or lifting heavy items
- Limited mobility for the first few weeks which means while walking is okay, brisk walking, climbing stairs, running is prohibited.
- Activities such as walking should be gradually increased and not suddenly
- Please ensure the surgical incision site is well taken care of. This means be careful while showing, routinely have a caregiver clean and re-dress the wound to avoid infection.
- Schedule follow-up sessions with your doctor to ensure your surgery and the after-results are positive.
When can I go back to normal life after the surgery?
Laminectomy recovery period varies from person to person based on the severity of the condition and the success of the procedure. However, positive results start showing within the first few weeks but full recovery would take about 2-4 months or maybe more.
Does this procedure guarantee I won’t have any other spine complication in the future?
No, a laminectomy surgery cannot prevent future spinal or bone complications.
If not walking, can I drive myself to work during recovery?
Usually surgical procedures come with a lot of post-recovery upkeep which may include sleep-inducing medication. It is recommended to avoid heavy machinery operation or driving during these times.