If your doctor is recommending that you see a neurosurgeon for a laminectomy, you are probably experiencing some feelings of worry and concern. Neurosurgery is serious, and as much as you want your back to feel better, going under the knife can seem like a big step. Keep in mind, however, that your doctor would not be recommending this procedure if they did not feel it was right for you. As you discover answers to the many questions you likely have, you will probably start to feel more comfortable about the procedure to come. Here is some information to help you better understand the procedure.
What is a laminectomy?
A laminectomy is a specific surgical procedure during which the lamina are removed from one or more vertebrae in your spine. The lamina is the back of the ring part of your vertebrae; it's the part you feel when you run your fingers down your back and feel the points of your spine. The purpose of removing these laminae is to reduce pressure on a spinal disc or on nerves running through or out of the spine.
How does the neurosurgeon remove the laminae?
To perform a laminectomy, your surgeon will make a small incision over the part of your spine where the laminae are to be removed. They will then have to detach your back muscles from the spine before using a small, saw-like instrument to cut away part of the lamina. They will then reconnect the muscles and suture the incision closed. This is all done under general anesthesia; you will be completely asleep and unaware of what is going on.
How long does recovery take?
Recovery from a laminectomy surprisingly does not take as long as you might think. You may have to stay in the hospital for a day afterwards, but many patients are sent home the same day, provided they have someone at home to care for them. You'll have to slowly ease your way back into physical activity, usually with the help of a physical therapist, but most people are back to work in a month. It will be about three months before you can do more intense physical activity.
What risks are involved?
As with any neurosurgery, there is a risk of nerve damage, infection, and blood clots. Your surgeon will discuss these risks with you prior to the procedure and will take many steps to reduce your risk.
When conservative therapies do not work, a laminectomy is often your best bet for relief from herniated disc pain or nerve compression. Take a deep breath and reassure yourself; it will be okay!
For more information on surgical procedures like a leminectomy, contact a local neurosurgeon such as one from Southwest Florida Neurosurgical & Rehab Associates.