Lumbar Laminectomy: aka Open Decompression Lumbar Laminectomy, Neural Impingement Surgery
What is it?
Lumbar laminectomy is a surgery that is similar to a lumbar decompression surgery used to alleviate pain resulting when the spine pinches on nerves. This surgery allows the surgeon to remove a small part of the bone that sits over the disc or the nerve root to allow the disc to heal in a better environment. Many feel this surgery is ideal for improving function in patients with spinal stenosis where degenerative changes in the spine cause the facet joints in the spine to enlarge. This in turn causes the spine to place pressure on the nerves. A lumbar laminectomy relieves this pressure.
During the lumbar laminectomy procedure performed as an open decompression procedure, the following steps take place:
- First, the surgeon typically places the patient in a position that reduces the amount of weight of the stomach on the spine.
- Next, the surgeon makes an incision over the vertebrae down the bony parts of the spine. These are typically called the lamina.
- Then the doctor removes the ligaments joining the vertebra of the spine to try to see the nerves involved in the compression. Once the doctor does this he or she ill pull the nerve root back toward the center of the spine to remove the disc or part of it.
- Next the doctor closes the incision allowing the back muscle to protect the spine and nerve roots.
Alternatives to Surgery
There are other surgeries available some patients might consider before they opted for a lumbar laminectomy. Some patients prefer to have a spinal fusion performed where a doctor simply fuses one or more vertebrae together. This procedure may also help somewhat with recurrent back pain, but again there are not any guarantees.
There are alternatives to surgery. Some patients opt for natural therapies including pool therapy, using a back brace, strength training, and regular chiropractic care and physical therapy. Others try even radical approaches to relieving their pain. Is there truly one best way to approach healing? No, there isn’t. What works for some patients may or may not work for others, and ultimately each person will have to go on their own journey to discover which method will work best for them.
This is one reason it is so important you take time out to research the many different options and decide what procedure sounds like it is best suited to meet your needs. Remember what works for one patient may or may not work for you. Be open minded and remember sometimes a combination of treatments is the best approach to comprehensive healthcare.
Before the Operation
The physician will provide detailed instructions on pre-operative care, weight and any laboratory work that will need to be performed prior to the scheduled surgery.
After the Operation- In the Hospital
Following the procedure patients return to the hospital room where they receive any assistance necessary, have their vitals taken and receive any medications needed to help control pain. Some patients receive IV medications.
Most doctors recommend patients try to walk within the first few hours following surgery. This will help prevent complications of surgery including pneumonia, a common complication where loss of air occurs in the lungs.
After the Operation- At Home
When you return home, it is important you practice tightening our abdomen to help protect your back and avoid injuring your back. You may find you feel better if you practice sleeping in some more comfortable sleeping positions. These may include sleeping with a pillow under your knees, neck and sometimes arms. Other people find lying on their side helpful. It always helps to have support when getting up and out of bed too, and take your time so you don’t faint!
Possible complications associated with surgery may include:
- A fever, in which case you should call your health center or doctor right way, as this could indicate an infection
- Stitches or staples that come loose or fall out
- A bandage that false off or becomes soaked with fluid or blood
- Increasing discomfort including pain, tingling and numbness in the legs, buttocks and back
- Severe headache, unlike any other headache you’ve experienced
- Other alarming symptoms, including dizziness or fainting
A lumbar laminectomy is a form of surgery that can help improve posture and reduce pain in patients with disc problems and back pain. Many times this surgery is ideal for individuals that have persistent pain stemming from root compression from the spinal cord. Once you have surgery your doctor will want to see you roughly one week following your surgery and then again in about four to six weeks following your surgery. Many patients find this surgery effective for relieving many symptoms including numbness and tingling associated with disc herniation and chronic nerve compression associated with back problems.
Estimated Costs for Lumbar Laminectomy Surgery
The costs of a lumbar laminectomy vary from person to person and will depend mostly on the severity of your condition, your overall health, whether you have insurance and whether you have other cosmetic procedures performed with the lumbar laminectomy.
Find out if your doctor or surgeon is willing to set up a payment plan with you or offer a discount of payment in advance or in full before the procedure takes place. Many are willing to work with their patients to provide them with the healthcare services they need.