Laminectomy: Overview, Advantages, & Eligibility Criteria
A minimally invasive laminectomy is a sophisticated and effective treatment to remedy the narrowing of the spinal canal. The spinal canal, which travels down and through the center of our vertebrae, is a crucial channel for the spinal cord and spinal root nerves. The laminae, which encase the spinal cord and its accompanying nerves, are 2 thin bones on the back side of this canal. Unfortunately, these passageways have a tendency to narrow as we age, resulting in compression of these nerves. By removing part of or all of the lamina during a laminectomy, pressure on these nerves is released, relieving the painful symptoms associated with nerve compression.
During a laminectomy, your surgeon will make a small incision on the back, adjacent to the affected vertebrae. The number and size of the incisions will depend upon the number of laminae that will be operated on during the procedure. Muscles and ligaments will be carefully moved to the side, providing a clear view of the targeted laminae. The lamina will be removed through the use of specialized instruments and drills, leaving space for the compressed nerves to expand.
After removing the lamina, the surgeon will often perform other corresponding procedures to ensure nerve decompression. The reason these procedures are normally performed in this order is due to the fact that a laminectomy opens up the backside of the vertebrae. Doing so allows your surgeon to access many spaces in the spine simultaneously. Some of the other procedures that are often combined with a laminectomy include foraminotomies, discectomies, and spinal fusions (ALIF, PLIF, & TLIF, for example). The specifics of your procedure, however, will depend entirely upon your individual situation and medical needs.
Advantages of a Laminectomy
A minimally invasive laminectomy provides both the surgeon and the patient with multiple advantages for the treatment of painful nerve compression. Some of these benefits include:
- Smaller incisions result in less blood loss and less postoperative pain or scarring
- This minimally invasive option allows for easier access to perform other procedures
- Performed as a same-day procedure, allowing you to return home the same day as surgery
- Less damage to nearby tissues, muscles, and ligaments because of advanced entry techniques
- Shorter recovery times because of this minimally invasive approach and less tissue destruction
Dr. Jason E. Lowenstein, MD, specializes in treating the painful narrowing of the spinal canal caused by spinal stenosis. He is well-versed in the endoscopic techniques used in minimally invasive surgeries, and has received multiple awards for his expertise in both pediatric and adult spine surgery. If you are suffering from spinal or foraminal stenosis, you can trust Dr. Lowenstein and his experienced team at the Advanced Spine Center of New Jersey to help you find relief.
Eligibility Requirements for a Laminectomy
If you have been suffering with the painful symptoms associated with spinal stenosis, a minimally invasive laminectomy may be able to help you. By removing the laminae of the vertebrae, symptoms such as excruciating localized pain, radiating pain down the legs or arms, and numbness or tingling can be alleviated as pressure on the nerves is released.
There are certain situations that may restrict an individual from receiving a laminectomy, however. If you have infection of the spine, severe instability in a spinal segment, or if you are diagnosed with a severe medical condition, then a laminectomy may not be the right option for you.
It is always important to have a full assessment and diagnosis performed by a qualified physician and to attempt more conservative treatment options before choosing surgery. If noninvasive treatments such as physical therapy and pain management were not adequate to relieve your pain, then it may be time to evaluate your surgical options.