A laminectomy, also known as spinal decompression surgery, is a surgical procedure done to treat the symptoms of spinal nerve compressions caused by various spinal issues like herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and other conditions that put pressure on the spinal nerves. This procedure can be done as a standalone procedure done to decompress the spinal nerves, but in a lot of cases, it is done in conjunction with procedures to help with decompressing the spinal nerves. The surgical procedure involves removing a piece of the lamina – the bony part of the spine. When a section of the lamina covering the compressed nerves is removed, it relieves the pressure on the nerves and surrounding tissues.
This procedure is quite invasive which is why a lot of doctors would consider other treatment methods before recommending an open surgery such as this one; however, if non-surgical or minimally invasive surgeries aren’t enough to relieve the pressure on the spinal nerves, or if other surgical procedures need to be performed, then spinal decompression surgery is the best treatment option.
Ideal Candidates for a Laminectomy
Ideal candidates for this type of procedure are those who exhibit signs and symptoms of stenosis that does not respond to non-surgical treatment methods. These symptoms include neck, back, or leg pain that is severe enough to disrupt a person’s normal day to day activities. These symptoms may be caused by a number of spinal conditions that put pressure on the spinal nerves.
This procedure is an invasive one and surgeons need to be sure about what they’re dealing with before recommending decompression surgery on the spine. For a patient to be considered for this type of surgery, he or she must go through a series of diagnostic tests including electromyogram, CT scans, MRI scans, and x-rays. These tests reveal whether stenosis or any other spinal conditions are present and where they are located.
How this Procedure is Done
General anesthesia is used on patients who are about to go through a laminectomy. The length of the procedure depends on the condition causing the compression on the spinal nerves and the extent of the surgery that needs to be done. Guided by the results of imaging scans, the surgeon begins the surgery by making marks on the skin covering the affected vertebrae. These marks serve as a guide for surgeons when making the necessary incisions. After making the incisions on the skin, the surgeon will then have to cut through muscle tissues and separate them from the bones in the vertebrae.
These sections of muscles are held back using a retractor to keep the area clear for bone extraction. When the area is clear, the next step would be to remove a piece of bone from the lamina to gain access to the spinal canal and exposing the discs between each vertebra. Sometimes, the extraction of the lamina is enough to ease the pressure off the spinal nerves, but in most cases, fragments of herniated discs or excess tissue may have to be removed in order to free the nerves from the pressure.
When the pressure is relieved and all the fragments causing the pressure are extracted, the surgeon can then proceed to close. The retractor is removed and the muscles are sewn back in place using absorbable sutures. Finally, the incisions on the skin are closed using surgical staples or sutures.
If you feel that you’re a good candidate for a laminectomy, or if you want more information on the procedure, feel free to call us and schedule a consultation session with one of our respected surgeons.