A lumbar laminectomy is a minimally invasive surgery that is designed to relieve moderate to severe low back pain that has not been helped by other less drastic medical methods. This procedure is typically elective and involves the surgical removal of a segment of the spine (known as the lamina) which is located on the dorsal surface area of the spinal vertebrae. Like any surgery, there are risk factors involved and it is important that if you are considering this procedure that you understand the procedure and what it entails.
This procedure is ordinarily performed while the patient is under the influence of general anesthesia, in a sterile surgical center (this location is usually inside of a hospital but in certain circumstances can be performed in an alternate surgical facility.) Before surgery starts, the patient is placed on their stomach or side (dependent on the nature of their pain condition) and the surgeon would then make a small incision over the area containing the damaged vertebrae to begin the lumbar laminectomy.
At this point in the operation the surgeon would then make use of a retractor that will make ample space for them to work on the area by gently spreading the muscle and tissues that are covering the spine. When this has been completed the operating surgeon will cut away as much of the lamina as needed in order to expose the ligamentum flavum which is the long yellow mass of connective tissues that are attached to the vertebrae and help support the spine. Once exposed, an incision will be made into the ligamentum flavum to expose the compressed nerve that is causing the patients low back pain and help to relieve the pressure on it.
After a patient undergoes a lumbar laminectomy they will typically remain in the hospital facility for one to three days so that hospital staff can monitor the administration of antibiotics, pain meds and the patients overall aftercare and recovery. Aftercare at a surgical facility is highly recommended because it is shown to lower the risk the patient forming blood clots in the legs which can cause further complications.
There are said to be some major risks that accompany the procedure which can include bleeding, infection, blood clots, the possible worsening of back pain, and the possible leakage of spinal fluid and in some cases the loss of function in legs. Results of the surgery will vary based on the individual’s condition but in most cases the patient that undergoes this procedure can expect significant relief of back pain and an overall improvement of functioning. The surgery itself has a very low risk of death at one percent and an average of 64.4% rate of complete success. Although not all cases involving this procedure are successful, there is enough information to conclude that a lumbar laminectomy should be considered an option (along with other alternate forms of care) for those suffering from moderate to severe back pain in their day to day lives.
Written By: Updated: June 29,2011