The spine is a complex system within the body, comprising a combination of vertebra for support and protection, discs that serve to cushion the spine, and ligaments that provide strength and flexibility. However, in complex systems things can sometimes go awry, spinal stenosis being a common problem. Spinal stenosis is a term referring to the narrowing of the spine leading to pressure on the spinal cord and nerves that can produce numbness, tingling, or pain in the back and limbs. In extreme cases, loss of bladder and bowel control can result.
One of the causes of spinal stenosis is bony growths within the spine, and a laminectomy is one of the surgeries that is used to provide relief in cases where more conservative measures have failed. A laminectomy is a surgery that opens space within the spine by removing the lamina, the posterior (rear) portion of the vertebra that covers your spine. Properly done, a laminectomy can bring relief of pain by reducing or removing pressure on the spinal cords and nerves.
During a laminectomy Dr. Peelle will administer general anesthesia, rendering you unconscious during the surgery itself. An incision will be made over the target vertebrae, and the covering muscles moved carefully out of the way with special surgical equipment. In cases where a herniated disc is also present, the disc will be removed along with any fragments that are present. In some cases, spinal fusion may be performed to help stabilize your spine with the help of a bone graft, and occasionally screws and metal rods. In these cases, your cervical surgeon in South Carolina, Dr. Peelle will discuss this with you prior to the surgery.
1. Why would I need a laminectomy?
Certain forms of stenosis are caused by bony growths within the spinal canal that can impinge on the space available to the spinal cords and nerves. This generates pressure on the nerves, causing the symptoms associated with spinal stenosis. Before Dr. Peelle decides on a laminectomy, they are likely to pursue a more conservative track of treatment, including physical therapy, medication, and exercise.
2. What symptoms could indicate I need a laminectomy?
The pressure caused by the bony growths within your spinal column can lead to radiating back pain that reaches down to your legs and arms. Weakness and numbness are also symptoms of spinal stenosis, and signs that a laminectomy may be necessary to relieve them. In extreme cases, you may also experience loss of bladder or bowel control.
3. Are there risks are associated with a laminectomy?
All surgical procedures come with some level of risk, especially those associated with the spine. Laminectomies are generally safe, however there some potential complications, including spinal fluid leak, blood clots, infection, and in rare cases nerve injury.
4. What do I need to do to prepare for my laminectomy?
Prior to your laminectomy, you’ll need to avoid eating and drinking from the night before your surgery. Additional instructions can vary according to your particular case, and Dr. Peelle will provide you with a specific protocol to follow prior to the surgery.