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Definition of Laminectomy Surgery
Laminectomy is a surgical operation to remove a segment of vertebra (bone of the spine) to relieve pressure against the spinal cord or a spinal nerve root.
Laminectomy treats neurologic symptoms arising from herniated nucleus pulposus (herniated or slipped disk), cervical spondylosis, and spinal stenosis. When laminectomy is the appropriate therapeutic choice, it has a fairly high success rate for relieving symptoms (such as pain, weakness, and numbness in the leg) and allowing the person to return to regular activities.
However, it is important to first consider all other therapeutic options as the rate of success for back surgery is highly variable.
Laminectomy is an open surgery on the back performed under general anesthesia. An orthopedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon may perform the operation. The surgeon makes a long incision (five to seven inches) along the spine at the site of the impingement; separates the soft tissue structures from the vertebra to expose the bone; and removes a lamina, one of the flat segments of the vertebral arch.
Depending on the cause of the impingement and the overall health of the vertebrae (whether there is progressive deterioration such as is common with spinal stenosis), the surgeon may choose also to fuse the operated vertebra to an adjacent healthy vertebra for stability. Most people stay in the hospital up to three days after the operation. Recuperation and return to normal activities takes six to eight weeks.
Recovery and Risks
The risks of laminectomy include excessive bleeding during surgery, postoperative infection, continued symptoms after healing, and sensory disturbances resulting from surgical injury to the spinal nerve root. When the cause of the nerve compression was deterioration of the vertebra due to a progressive condition such as osteoarthritis, further damage may occur to the same vertebra or other vertebrae.
About 70 percent of people experience full relief from their symptoms and return to work and recreational activities without restriction.
See also BACK PAIN; SCIATICA; SPINAL NERVES; SURGERY BENEFIT AND RISK ASSESSMENT.
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