A laminectomy involves the removal of part or all of the bone covering the spinal canal. The purpose of this procedure can be to free nerve roots, remove a tumor, bone spur, or to perform certain types of fusion procedures.
Removing the lamina (laminectomy) is much like removing the cover on a fuse box to access the wiring. By removing the lamina, Dr. Radcliff gains access to the disc area and frees more space for the nerves inside.
A laminectomy is often used to treat recurrent disc herniations, or where scar tissue is involved. Laminectomy may also be used in cases of spinal stenosis in which the entire canal is narrowed like a ring on a swollen finger.
During the surgery, Dr. Radcliff makes a one to two-inch incision in the low back. He then chips away the lamina of one or more vertebrae to gain access to the disc area. Dr. Radcliff will then remove any fragments that may have broken away from the disc, as well as the area of the disc that is herniated and pressuring a nerve root. The entire disc is not removed. If it was, you would lose the shock-absorbing function of the disc between the vertebrae. Instead, Dr. Radcliff typically removes the part of the disc that has ruptured outward, along with another 10 or 20 percent of the disc, in order to prevent future problems from arising.
Patients who undergo minimally invasive lumbar laminectomy tend to recover much faster than those who have an open spine surgery. Many people who have undergone minimally invasive spine surgery will be able to return to normal activities in approximately six weeks. During the first six weeks post-surgery, most patients will need to restrict activities, though the degree to which activity is restricted will be determined by Dr. Radcliff, based on your overall health, and recovery process.