Laminectomy is a surgical procedure to relieve pain in the lower back, when primary treatments like medication and physiotherapy have failed. In medical terminology, a Laminectomy is better known as decompression and involves the surgical removal of the Lamina. Lamina is one of the bones that make up the spinal column in our body.
Laminectomy has always been a choice for patients suffering from lower back ache (arising from spinal stenosis, sciatica or herniated disk) and never a forced surgery. Laminectomy is performed to relieve pain in the lower back is called Lumbar Laminectomy or Open decompression.
Once a doctor establishes the reason behind a patient’s lower back ache, primary treatment like medication and bed rest is suggested for up to 48 hours. If the pain subsides, it indicates minor reasons like heavy lifting, over exertion or poor posture for the cause of the pain. However if the pain does not subside even after 48 hours, an orthopedic surgeon evaluates the patients’ medical history and performs physical examination, imaging studies to know the exact reason of the back pain. This helps the surgeon to check for any bone deformities or problems in the cartilage after which it is also decided if spinal stenosis needs to be performed alongside the Laminectomy.
Laminectomy usually requires the patient to undergo tests like Blood Count test, ECG, Urine test and a test to measure the speed of blood clotting. For this reason, it is advised to stay away from Aspirin atleast a week before Laminectomy as it interferes with blood clotting speed. The patient should stop smoking and drinking as well before the surgery. Laminectomy requires the patient to be administered with general anesthesia. The patient is positioned lying on the side or stomach. Once an incision is made and the muscles and fatty tissue on the spine are separated, the surgeon can cut away part of the lamina. Once this is done, the main cause of back pain is established since causes like herniated disk, tumor, bone spur etc are visible from this incision. Based on the cause, further treatment is done to relieve the condition. Once the complete procedure is performed, the incision is closed with the help of stitches. This surgery may last from 1-3 hours after which the patient is required to be in hospital for a couple of days. All medications and diet are given intravenously and simple breathing and walking exercises are recommended. Stitches are removed after a week and a lot of post operative care is to be taken during this recovery period.
This surgery is however accompanied with its own risks like bleeding and infection. Sometimes a permanent damage is done to the spinal cord causing loss of function in legs and worsening of back pain. Blood clots pose as a bigger risk after Laminectomy. But, all risks apart, a successful Laminectomy shows considerable relief from back pain and helps improve the quality of a person’s life.
For Back pain related inforamtion, click on the links below: