The problems that get cured through this procedure include: problem in walking, back pain, weakness or numbness in the legs, difficulty in controlling bowel or bladder movements. Surgical intervention is suggested only once medical management, injections or physiotherapy has failed or symptoms start creating difficulty in performing daily life activities.
This procedure is also known by other names such as :
The procedure broadens the spinal canal to alleviate pressure on the nerves or spinal cord. This pressure is generally caused due to bony overgrowths within the spinal canal. These bony overgrowths may lead to narrowing of space in the nerves and spinal cord. The pain caused due to pressure may radiate to the arms or legs too. So the surgical intervention not only relieves the back pain but also such kind of pain due to radiating symptoms. Either a MRI or CT san is done to see the exact location and amount of pressure on the nerves.
At times , this surgery may be done as part of a procedure for the treatment of herniated disc. In order to access the diseased disc, the surgeon may need to remove part of the lamina..
The surgery is done under general anesthesia. Patient is then rolled to face down position to access the back. The surgeon then makes an incision along the middle of the lower back. After that the back of spinal bones is visualized by pushing aside the lumbar muscles. Next, a sharp cutting instrument is used to remove a portion of the lamina. Special care is taken during this process so that the spinal nerves do not get damaged. Ligament which can also be a source of spinal compression is removed at the same time. After removal of the thickened lamina and ligament, the spinal nerves get free from compression.
Patients who undergo this surgery mostly have a good result as they notice a significant relief in the back and leg pain. They are also able to walk comfortably for longer distances after the surgery!
Normally, recovery takes 6 weeks after the surgical procedure. Patients are suggested to :
Physiotherapy is also suggested to strengthen the back muscles. This will also speed up the recovery.
After the completion of surgery, patient is shifted to intensive care unit for observation and monitoring of vital signs. There can be feeling of pain initially for which your treating doctor prescribes medicine. All you need to do is let the medical attendant or nurse know in case if the pain is intolerable.
Once the condition is stable, patient gets shifted to ward area from where he can be discharged. Total stay in the hospital varies from 3 to 4 days depending upon the patient's condition. Once you are back home, make sure you follow the instructions given by your treating doctor at the time of discharge. You may also need to continue physical therapy for few days. Also keep the incision site clean and dry.
The stitches usually get removed after two weeks. Till then it is advisable to avoid long distance journeys as they can lead to blood clotting.
Recovery time varies from patient to patient. So please check with your doctor when you can resume your daily life activities. It usually takes 3 to 4 months for the bones to heal properly, but one can get back to normal routine in around 3 to 4 weeks.
As with any other surgery, laminectomy too involves certain risks or complications. The major ones include: nerve injury, spinal fluid leakage, bleeding, blood clots and infection or returning back of symptoms in future. But all these can very well be taken care of if the patient is under the supervision and care of an expert doctor.
Contact your treating doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
Since laminectomy cannot restrict the building up from osteoarthritis that led to the nerve compression initially, symptoms may come back over time.