Disk Replacement Summary

A laminectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the two small bones called the lamina that make up the vertebra of the spine. It is also used to remove bone spurs from your back. The goal of this procedure is to alleviate the spinal nerves or column of pressure.

Before this procedure patients suffer from a host of symptoms including:

  • Leg pain
  • Numbness of the legs
  • Weakness in the legs or buttocks
  • Heaviness in the legs or buttocks
  • Increased symptoms when standing or walking
  • Poor bowel or bladder control

These symptoms are caused by a condition called spinal stenosis. The symptoms of spinal stenosis typically become worse overtime. When the symptoms of this disorder have become severe or they are interfering with daily life surgery is usually merited.

Length of the procedure:  1 to 3 hours

Hospital Stay:  Most patients are released from care within 1 to 3 days of their procedure.

Recovery before traveling home:  Patients seeking a laminectomy through medical tourism can return home within 2 to 4 days of their procedure in most cases.

Travel Tip:  When seeking a laminectomy through medical tourism it is important to choose your hotel wisely. Chances are you will stay at least one night after you are released from the hospital. Ask for a room that is either on the first floor or close to the elevator. Additionally, ask for a room that is handicap accessible so you have the proper accommodations while you convalesce.

Procedure Details

During your surgery you will be given general anesthesia. You will lie face down on the operating table. The surgical area will be prepped with a sterile drape and an antiseptic liquid.

The surgeon will begin the procedure by making an incision either in the middle of your back or neck. They will carefully move the skin, muscles and ligaments aside. They will remove part or all of your lamina bones. They will remove any disk fragments, bone spurs and damaged soft tissue.

The surgeon will also remove the sharp part of your spine called the spinous. Then, they will make the opening of the spinal column wider, so the spinal nerves have more room. In some cases the surgeon may do a spinal fusion to ensure the stability of the spine.

After the Procedure

After the procedure you will be taken to recovery. You will be monitored for about 2 hours and admitted to a room after that time. You will be given pain medication to ease discomfort. If you did not have a spinal fusion the hospital staff will help you get up and walk around within hours of recovery.

Most patients have difficulty sleeping and moving following this procedure. The following tips may help you rest and move easier:

  • Lie on your back with a pillow under your neck and knees
  • Lie on your side with a pillow between your knees
  • Tighten your abdomen before rolling over or moving
  • Use your arms to support your body when getting out of bed
  • Bend at the hip rather than the waist
  • Avoid twisting at the hips and shoulders

Many doctors recommend physically therapy after this procedure. It may help ensure healing and the restoration of function.

Results

Most patients who have this surgery experience less pain and increased mobility once they are healed. Nearly 80% of patients who had a laminectomy would say they were satisfied with the outcome of the procedure. However, between 10% to 20% require additional surgery in the future.

Additional surgery may be required if:

  • Tissue re-growth causes the lamina to compress the spinal cord or nerves
  • Spinal stenosis occurs in another part of the spine
  • The spine does not fuse and instability develops as a result
  • The first surgery fails to alleviate symptoms

Risks and Complications

As is with any surgery there are risks associated with laminectomy. The following is a list of the most common risks and complications:

  • Infection
  • Blood Clots
  • Blood loss
  • Reaction to medication
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Breathing problems
  • Damage to spinal nerves
  • Arterial damage
  • Weakness
  • Pain
  • Loss of feeling
  • Return of pain or symptoms

Contact your physician if:

  • Drainage from the incision occurs
  • Stitches or staples come loose or fall out
  • Bandages are soaked with blood
  • Fever is 101 or above
  • Redness develops at incision site
  • Pain increases
  • Numbness develops in your legs, back or buttocks
  • Loss of ability to urinate
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • One leg becomes painful, swollen or red
  • Severe headache develops