What is Laminectomy and How Dangerous is a Laminectomy Procedure?

What Is Laminectomy & Why Is It Done?

Laminectomy is a back surgery, usually done for treatment of spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is a condition characterized by narrowing of the spinal canal resulting in impingement of the nerve roots causing a variety of symptoms including pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness which may or may not radiate down the lower extremities. The severity of the pain may be such that the affected individual may find it extremely hard to carry out normal activities of daily living or work related activities, especially if the patient has a heavy demand job where the patient has to stand for prolonged periods of time or lift, bend, push, or pull heavy objects.

Additionally, spinal stenosis may also result in lack of control of bowel and bladder. Laminectomy is a procedure which is usually reserved as a last resort when other forms of treatment for the condition are deemed ineffective. A laminectomy is done by removing the lamina, which is a part of the bone which forms the vertebral arch in the spine, thus relieving pressure from the spine and causing symptom relief.

Before embarking on the laminectomy procedure, the first question that comes to the mind of the patient is how dangerous is a laminectomy. This article gives a brief overview of whether laminectomy is a complex and dangerous procedure or not.

What Is Laminectomy & Why Is It Done?

How Dangerous is a Laminectomy Procedure?

Laminectomy is not considered to be a dangerous procedure when compared to some of the other surgical procedures that are done of other organ systems of the body. It has the same inherent risks that any other surgery would entail. Some of the common risks that are associated with a laminectomy procedure are damage to the nerve root, which is seen in around 1% of cases. The nerve root damage is not complicated to result in potentially serious complications like paralysis. This is because the procedure is done much below the level in the spine from where paralysis is something that is impossible.

CSF leak is yet another complication that may arise due to a laminectomy procedure, but again this leak is not significant and just lying in bed for about a day is enough to plug the leak.

Infections are something which are inherent to all surgical procedures. Same is the case with laminectomy and in some cases, the patient may need antibiotics in case an infection develops after a laminectomy procedure. Usually these infections are not serious and are easily resolved.

Excessive bleeding is yet another risk associated with laminectomy procedure, although it is very rare. Failure of the procedure or not getting the desired result from the surgery is something that is again inherent to all surgical procedures and same is the case with laminectomy.

Postoperative instability is seen in about 10% of cases after a laminectomy procedure. In some cases, a laminectomy procedure may hasten the process of natural degeneration of the spine leading to degenerative disc disease or spondylolisthesis, but again such cases are very few and far between, especially after a laminectomy procedure.

Conclusion:

It can be safely said that laminectomy is quite a safe procedure and is not dangerous in any way when compared to some of the other surgical procedures that are done to other organ systems of the body. The risks that laminectomy procedure entails are quite minimal and do not last for long. Thus, it is quite safe for an individual to undergo a laminectomy procedure without any fear for any serious postoperative complications post laminectomy.

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