The Lumbar Laminectomy Procedure
The painful symptoms of spinal stenosis that occur in the lower part of the spine are commonly treated with a surgical procedure called lumbar laminectomy. This condition causes a narrowing of the spinal canal in the lumbar region of the spine. As the spinal canal gets narrower, the nerves get more and more compressed inside, causing pain and muscle weakness in the lower back and legs, as well as other disruptive symptoms that may affect a person’s quality of life.
The goal of this surgical procedure is to relieve the pressure on the nerves before it can cause serious nerve damage. This is done by removing the lamina – the bony part of the spine that covers the spinal canal – and any other growths and disc fragments that may be adding to the nerve compression. This procedure is quite invasive. This is why surgeons prefer to try non-surgical treatment methods before suggesting surgery; however, in a lot of cases, open decompression procedures such as this may be the only solution for lumbar spinal stenosis patients to finally be able to live a normal and relatively pain-free life.
Ideal Candidates for Lumbar Laminectomy
Lumbar laminectomy is done to treat patients with severe pain caused by lumbar spinal stenosis and other conditions that cause nerve compression in the lumbar region of the spine. An ideal candidate for this procedure would be someone who has already tried non-surgical methods of treatment, but has failed to find relief. This procedure can also be done in patients who exhibit other symptoms such as loss of neurological functions, weakness, and loss of control over the bladder or the bowel.
Considering the invasive nature of this surgery, a patient needs to undergo several imaging and diagnostic tests to determine if lumbar spinal stenosis is indeed the cause of the symptoms. If the results of these tests prove the presence of stenosis or other spinal conditions, the surgeon will then add open decompression surgery to the list of possible treatment options.
How this Procedure is Done
Like most spinal surgeries, general anesthesia is administered to a patient who is about to undergo a lumbar laminectomy. The patient lays face down on the operating table to give the surgeon access to the lumbar vertebrae. The operation begins with a single long incision made down the center of the patient’s lower back. The surgeon then cuts his way past the muscles and connective tissues which are held back with the help of a retractor. When the spinal column is exposed, the surgeon then proceeds to find the affected vertebrae using a fluoroscope.
The next step for the surgeon would be to remove the bone (lamina) surgically, as well as any bone spurs, tissues or fragments of herniated discs that may contribute to the compression of the nerves in the spine. When working on the lumbar region, most surgeons refrain from removing the whole lamina if possible. This is because of some stability issues it may cause with connective facet joints. If removing the entire lamina of a particular vertebrae is necessary and unavoidable, spinal fusion or dynamic stabilization procedures may be performed to restore stability to the lower spine.
If you think you are a candidate for lumbar laminectomy or if you want more information about the procedure, contact us and schedule a consultation session with one of our respected surgeons.