Also known as decompression surgery, laminectomy is a surgery that is performed for enlarging the spinal canal. The space is created by removing the back portion of vertebra covering your spinal canal, known as the lamina. It is done for relieving pressure on the nerves or the spinal cord. The pressure is normally caused due to bony overgrowths within your spinal canal, occurring mostly in people suffering from arthritis in the spine. It can lead to numbness, pain and weakness, often radiating down to the arms and the legs.
Laminectomy will be suggested by your doctor when other conservative methods of treatment like physical therapy, medications and injections have failed to treat the condition. It may also be recommended when the symptoms start getting worse drastically.
Your doctor may recommend laminectomy in the following circumstances:
There are certain pre-procedure instructions that you need to follow before undergoing a laminectomy:
You will be administered general anaesthesia for the surgery. Your blood pressure, heart rate and blood oxygen level will be continuously monitored during the whole procedure. The surgeon will first make an incision on the back after cleaning the area with an antiseptic solution. Then the skin, muscles, and ligaments will be moved to the side, enabling the surgeon to get a better view. The parts of the lamina will be then removed from the spine. Along with that, any bone spurs and fragments of small discs will also be removed. The incision is then closed with the help of stitches and covered with sterile bandage.
The surgeon may also be required to perform a spinal fusion during a laminectomy, where two or more bones need to be connected in the back for better stability of the spine.
You will be shifted to a recovery room after the completion of the surgery. You will be monitored to check for any complications that may arise due to the surgery or anaesthesia. A few medicines may also be prescribed for relieving you from the pain you may experience at the incision site.
The doctor can instruct you move your arms and legs after you regain consciousness. You may have to stay in the hospital for 1-2 days, depending on your condition. Physical therapy will be recommended for improving your flexibility and strength after laminectomy.
Limit your activities that may involve bending, stooping or lifting heavy objects for a few months after undergoing the surgery. You may resume working in a few weeks, depending on the amount of physical activity that your job involves. In case you had a spinal fusion along with laminectomy, the recovery period will be longer. It may even take you 6 months before you can resume your normal activities.
Generally, laminectomy is considered to be a safe surgery. However, like every surgical procedure, there may be some risks associated with it. The possible complications of undergoing a laminectomy may include:
In most cases, there is a marked improvement in the health condition of a patient after undergoing a laminectomy. However, the benefit can lessen if there is a recurrence of arthritis. Avoid bending, stooping or lifting heavy objects as much as possible. You can shift your groceries, toiletries and other daily requirements to your hip or shoulder level so that you do not have to bend every time you need them. Make sure that you take all the medicines that have been prescribed for faster recovery. Do not miss the follow-up appointments that are scheduled with your doctor. Frequent but short walks on a regular basis can speed up the recovery process. It is advised not to self-drive in the initial 1-2 weeks post-surgery.
The cost of laminectomy would be approximately Rs. 2,60,000 – Rs. 4,00,000.