Laminectomy

Laminectomy is usually performed for severe leg pain related to spinal stenosis, herniated discs & other related conditions. Spinal stenosis occurs as patients age & their spinal ligaments harden & thicken, bones & joints enlarge, discs bulge & bone spurs or osteophytes develop. The condition of spondylolisthesis may also lead to compression. According to reports, approximately 40 percent of the patients suffering from spinal problems need surgery for completely alleviating the painful condition. Aim of laminectomy is to alleviate pressure on the spinal nerve or spinal cord by expanding the spinal canal. Neurosurgeons may perform laminectomy procedure with or without removing part of a disc or fusing vertebrae. Several devices, like rods or screws, may also be used to strengthen the ability to attain a solid fusion & support sensitive regions of the spine.

What is Laminectomy?

Laminectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing a portion of the vertebra known as the ‘lamina’ to increase space between the spinal cavities in order to relieve the pressure being caused by its narrowing on the nerve roots inside the spinal canal (cavity). Pressure caused on nerve roots (spinal cord) inside the spinal cavity causes severe pain & disability of movement. Laminectomy is mostly needed when bony growths within the spinal cavity in vertebrae start to push against the spinal cord & nerves within it & which can also often give rise to arthritis of the spine. This is a last-resort method of treatment in case all other treatment options such as medications, physiotherapy & steroid injections fail to successfully address the problem.

Causes of Low Back Pain

In order to properly understand the reason behind lower back pain is the main step of choosing an appropriate treatment plan. Back pain is often very hard to treat. A good understanding of the causes will help patients in a successful recovery.

  • Ruptured Intervertebral Discs – Intervertebral discs may get damaged due to repeated motion or vibration, or by a sudden heavy strain or extreme pressure to lower back region.
  • Spinal Stenosis – This is a condition in which contraction or narrowing of spinal canal occurs & it mostly develops with age. Outer layer of the disc becomes less elastic & thins down.
  • Osteoporosis – As patients get older, their joints may degenerate.
  • Accident or Injury – Fractures of spinal vertebrae are caused due to force, such as from a car accident, compressing the spine by falling onto the head or buttocks or a direct hit onto the spine.

Signs & Symptoms of Spinal Nerve Compression

Laminectomy is a kind of back surgery used to soothe compression on the spinal cord. Patients suffering from following symptoms may opt for laminectomy.

  • Difficulty in walking
  • Mild to extreme back pain
  • Weakness or numbness in legs
  • Trouble controlling bowel or bladder movements

Laminectomy is mostly used if these symptoms which are interfering with patient’s daily life.

Good Candidates for Laminectomy

Laminectomy is basically needed when overgrown bone of the vertebra within the spinal cavity (canal) causes narrowing of the space required by the spinal cord & nerve roots. This exerts an undue & constant pressure on the spinal cord, or nerves & can cause severe back pain, weakness & numbness which is likely to spread from lower back area to patient’s arms & legs as well. Laminectomy is better at relieving this resultant pain in limbs rather than relieving the original back pain. Patients with the following conditions are considered as good candidates for a laminectomy.

  • Failure of Conventional Treatments – Other treatment methods such as medication or physical therapy have been unsuccessful in treating the painful symptoms.
  • Extreme Weakness – When patients experience numbness & weakness of muscles which makes it difficult for them to stand or walk.
  • Bladder Dysfunction – When patients suffer from lack of bladder & bowel control.

In certain cases, laminectomy may be combined with another spinal surgery such as herniated disc surgery in which the surgeon might have to remove a part of the lamina to get access to the damaged disc.

Diagnosing Spinal Nerve Compression

Neurosurgeons can diagnose spinal cord compression by performing the following tests.

  • Medical Exam – Neurosurgeons will evaluate medical history of patients & may recommend a complete physical examination.
  • CT scans or MRI – Along with an X-ray test of spinal cord, surgeons may suggest CT scan or MRI scan. CT scan as well as MRI test are efficient in providing detailed images of the patient’s spine.
  • Myelogram – In some cases, patients may be asked to undergo a myelogram test for diagnosing spinal nerve compression. This test involves insertion of dye into the spinal area of patients & then taking a CT scan of that region.

Preparing for Laminectomy Surgery

Once, diagnostic tests are completed, patients may decide if they want to undergo laminectomy surgery. Patients should seek appointments with neurosurgeons in order to understand the complete procedure.

  • Medications – Patients should tell their neurosurgeons what medications they are consuming. This includes all supplements, medicines or herbs they are taking.
  • Preparing Home – Patients need to make certain arrangements at their home prior to laminectomy surgery. They should tell someone (friend or family) to take care of them during & after laminectomy surgery.
  • Quit Smoking – If patients are smokers, they need to stop. Smoking may adversely affect the healing process post-surgery.

Two Weeks before Laminectomy Surgery

  • Avoiding Certain Medicines – Doctors may ask patients to quit taking certain medications that make it hard for the patient’s blood to clot. Generally, these include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), aspirin & naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve).
  • Regular Checkup – When patients are suffering from heart disease, diabetes or other health issues, surgeons may ask them to undergo a routine checkup.
  • Alcohol Intake – Patients should frankly tell the surgeon if they have been consuming a lot of alcohol.
  • Underlying Problems – Patients must right away tell neurosurgeons if they have had flu, cold, herpes breakout, fever or any other underlying illnesses.
  • Physical Exercises – Patients may visit a physical therapist to learn physical exercises to perform prior to or after laminectomy surgery.

On the day of Laminectomy Surgery

  • Food Intake – Patients will be instructed not to eat or drink anything for 8 to 12 hours before laminectomy surgery.
  • Essential Medicines – Patients may, however, take medicines that the surgeons have told them to take with a sip of water.
  • Report on Time – On the day of surgery, patients must arrive at the hospital on time.

Questions to Ask Surgeons about Laminectomy Surgery

Patients may take the help of following questions in order to understand laminectomy procedure. Apart from these questions, they should feel free to ask anything they want to before undergoing surgery.

  • What is laminectomy?
  • Why are you recommending laminectomy surgery for me?
  • What is your experience in doing laminectomy surgery?
  • What kind of anesthesia will be given to me?
  • What are the benefits & possible side-effects of laminectomy?
  • Based on my current health condition, what are my other treatment options?
  • How long will the laminectomy procedure last?
  • What are the risks & complications that I might have to suffer after laminectomy?
  • What happens if I do not undergo laminectomy surgery?
  • Can you help me in getting a second opinion?
  • Where will you perform laminectomy surgery?
  • When will I fully recover post-surgery?
  • When can I return back to the normal routine?

Laminectomy Surgery Procedure

Laminectomy can be performed in the following steps.

  • Anesthesia – Laminectomy procedure is a major type of surgical intervention & is normally performed under general anesthesia.
  • Incision – Surgery begins with surgeons making an incision in the back over the affected portion & subsequently moving aside muscles & other soft tissues away from patient’s spine as required.
  • Removal of Lamina – Spine surgeons will then use surgical cutting tools to gently scrape away the side walls of the lamina & remove it completely leaving a space between the vertebral walls. This removal of lamina results in increasing more space for the spinal cord & the nerves inside the spinal canal & which eventually help in relieving pressure being exerted by a damaged vertebra or crushed lamina.
  • Closing Incisions – This surgery is now being performed using laparoscopic minimally invasive surgical technique which makes it more efficient & convenient with lesser pain, faster recovery & less period of time for hospital stay after surgery. Incisions are finally closed using stitches or surgical staples.

Recovery Following Laminectomy Surgery

Spine surgeons will encourage patients to get up & move around as soon as they can when anesthesia wears off. Most patients will be able to go home after 2 to 3 days following surgery. Patients should follow guidelines & instructions given by surgeons on how to care for the wound at home. Patients will be able to drive vehicles within a couple of weeks’ time & resume daily routine activities after four weeks. During the recovery phase, patients should follow the outlined instructions.

  • Avoid effortful activities like heavy weight lifting
  • Patients should be careful while climbing stairs
  • Deliberately increase activities, such as walking
  • Attend all follow-up appointments with spine surgeons

Risks & Complications Associated with Laminectomy Surgery

Although laminectomy is generally a safe procedure it does carry certain risks as are seen in any type of surgical procedures. Common risks & complications include the following.

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Nerve injury
  • Blood clot
  • Leakage of spinal fluid

The doctor/surgeon will take every possible precaution & preventive measure in order to avoid these complications from arising.

Advantages of Laminectomy

Main advantage of laminectomy procedure is the pros associated with minimally invasive surgical technique including the following.

  • Lesser pain
  • Faster recovery
  • Shorter hospital stay

Another benefit of laminectomy procedure is the relief it provides to leg & arm pain that is caused by a pinched nerve in the back.

Laminectomy Surgery Outcomes

Laminectomy surgery for spinal stenosis provides great relief to patients. Several issues with spinal cord may occur after laminectomy surgery. If patients had undergone laminectomy & spinal fusion, their spinal column below & above the fusion are more likely to have certain issues in the future. But overall, patients are able to get fair relief from spinal pain & are able to live a healthy life if they properly follow instructions given by surgeons.

Medical Tourism for Spine Surgeries

Medical tourism industry is one of the fastest growing sectors across the globe. There is a massive demand for cost-effective healthcare & international standard hospital facilities which is propelling medical industry to soaring heights. As a boost to the economy, there are several countries promoting medical tourism on their soil. Following are some of the key strengths for medical tourism beyond borders.

  • Offering brilliant a wide spectrum of healthcare procedures including spine surgeries like laminectomy at very economical prices.
  • Excellent medical professionals & neurosurgeons catering to high quality of surgeries.
  • No long queues for international patients. Most procedures are available without any waiting period.
  • Many medical tourism destinations are beautiful countries & provide finest recuperation provisions for healthcare travelers in exotic locations following surgery.

Laminectomy Surgery with Travcure Medical Tourism

Travcure Medical Tourism is a leading healthcare tourism facilitator serving a large section of international patients avail top-class medical procedures including spinal surgeries & treatments like laminectomy. Travcure is associated with highly qualified & skilled spine surgeons as well as internationally accredited multi-specialty hospitals in countries like Turkey, Germany, United Arab Emirates, South Korea, & India. Travcure offers excellent nursing care to overseas patients in hospitals maintaining international protocols. Travcure ensures that international patients receive peerless & unmatched quality of successful medical procedures at affordable costs.

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