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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.
According to the National Institutes of Health, surgery takes one to three hours (NIH, 2010).
Risks of spine surgery include:
General risks for 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 (unless you had a spinal fusion). 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.
Written by: Natalie Phillips
Published on: Jul 19, 2012on: Jan 20, 2016
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