A lumbar laminectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing a portion of the lamina, which is the bony roof over the spinal canal in your lower back. This procedure is also sometimes called a decompression laminectomy.
Lumbar laminectomies treat various conditions that cause spinal cord or nerve compressions in the lower back, such as lumbar spinal stenosis or herniated discs. A laminectomy is the last resort if other more conservative medical treatments have failed to relieve symptoms.
A lumbar laminectomy aims to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves and improve your ability to move and feel. Sometimes, it may be combined with another procedure, such as a discectomy (removal of a herniated disc) or a spinal fusion (fusing vertebrae).
Who is a good candidate for a lumbar laminectomy?
You may be a candidate for a lumbar laminectomy if you have:
- Lumbar spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal that can compress the nerves
- A herniated disc
- Degenerative disc disease is a breakdown of the discs that cushion your vertebrae
Your doctor will likely recommend a lumbar laminectomy if:
- You have persistent pain or numbness in your legs or back that limits your ability to walk or stand for long periods.
- Other conservative treatments, such as physical therapy and pain medication, have not relieved your symptoms.
What are the risks and side effects?
As with any surgery, there are risks associated with a lumbar laminectomy, such as:
- Blood clots
- Temporary numbness or weakness in your legs
- Nerve damage
Other risks may occur depending on your health condition. You must discuss any concerns with your doctor before the surgery.
How is a lumbar laminectomy performed?
A lumbar laminectomy is typically performed under general anesthesia.
Your neurosurgeon will make an incision in your lower back and then remove a portion of the lamina to decompress the spinal cord or nerves. Your surgeon may also need to remove a herniated disc or fuse together vertebrae.
After the surgery is complete, your surgeon will close the incisions with stitches or staples and then place a bandage over the area.
You will be taken to a recovery room to monitor possible complications. Once you are awake and stable, you can go home.
What is the recovery time for this type of procedure?
Recovery from a lumbar laminectomy can take several weeks. You will likely need to take it easy and avoid any strenuous activities during this time. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on when you can return to your normal activities.
You may experience some pain and discomfort during your recovery. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to help you manage any discomfort. Most patients experience a significant improvement in their symptoms after a lumbar laminectomy.
Reduce your back pain and improve your quality of life
If you are experiencing back pain, numbness or tingling in your legs, difficulty walking, or other symptoms related to pressure on the spinal cord, you may be a candidate for this procedure. Contact GNS Surgery Center today to schedule a consultation and determine if a lumbar laminectomy is right for you.