Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Laminectomy-Discectomy to Remove Herniated Discs

One of the causes for back pain is a herniated disc where a fragment of the disc gets dislodged and presses against the spinal cord or nerves surrounding the spinal cord. Relief from this type of back pain is possible through discectomy.

This is a spinal surgical procedure used to remove the herniated disc from the spinal canal. It is performed with the surgeon making an incision to look at the herniated disc and then remove it for relief from back pain.

The procedure

The surgery takes about an hour, based on the extent of disc herniation, the patient's size and other factors. It is done with the patient lying face down, under general anesthesia wherein a 3 centimeter incision is made on the center of the back.

The surgeon then dissects the muscles away from the spinal bone and using the help of special instruments, removes some bone and ligament from the back of the spine. This part of the procedure is also referred to as laminotomy.

With the removal of bone and ligament, your surgeon can find and remove the herniated disc. Based on the condition and appearance of the remaining disc, your surgeon may remove more of the disc to prevent future disc herniation. When the surgeon is sure the disc has been completely removed, the incision is closed and a bandage applied.

Your body requires several weeks for the symptoms of the surgery to dissipate. Any pain you experience around the incision can be controlled using oral pain medications. You only have to spend a day at the hospital after which you may be asked to wear a lumbar corset.

You will be encouraged to do gentle activities after surgery, and to avoid lifting heavy objects, bending and excessive back twisting. Till your doctor advises it, refrain from doing any form of strenuous exercise or activity.

Possible complications and risks

There is always a chance of another disc herniating and giving similar symptoms. And as the success rate of a discectomy is 85-90%, there is always a chance of the remaining 10% of patients suffering from persistent symptoms. It is usually patients who have suffered from its symptoms for long, and have neurological deficiency who are at a risk of complete recovery.

The other surgical risks include bleeding, infection and spinal fluid leaks. Though all this can be treated, it entails a longer hospital stay and perhaps, additional surgery.

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