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What are the Different Types of Laminectomy?

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  • Written By: K. Gierok
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 28 July 2018
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A laminectomy is a process used to treat pain associated with pinched or compressed nerves in the spine. Often, this condition is related to a herniated or compressed disc or a bone spur. Depending on the location of the irritant, a number of types of laminectomies can be done. These include laminectomies that target the lumbar or cervical spine, as well as those used in the treatment of spinal stenosis. For best results in healing, those who have undergone this procedure should be sure to clean the incision site on a regular basis, watch for signs of infection, and work with their physician.

One common type of laminectomy targets the lumbar spine. Usually, lumbar laminectomies are used to aid in the treatment of pain for individuals who have been diagnosed with a herniated disc. In some cases, compressed nerves can also be treated through the use of lumbar laminectomies. Those who suffer from a herniated disc in the lumbar spine often experience high amounts of pain in the lower back, along with aching in the legs. A lumbar laminectomy is a relatively simple procedure that is usually performed on an outpatient basis.

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Another type of laminectomy targets the cervical spine. A cervical laminectomy is typically considered to be much more invasive than a lumbar laminectomy, and typically requires hospitalization. In cervical laminectomies, the fat and muscle surrounding the affected part of the spine are pulled away to expose the vertebra. A very fine drill is then used to cut away part of the vertebra to expose the spinal cord nerves. The part of the disc which has herniated is then removed.

Spinal stenosis can also be treated with a laminectomy. Spinal stenosis occurs when an irregular bone growth develops on a vertebra. This problem occurs often in old age and is due to the thickening and hardening of the spinal ligaments. Individuals who put repeated amounts of stress on certain parts of the body, such as runners, are also at risk for the development of spinal stenosis. Like cervical laminectomies, this process typically requires hospitalization.

Individuals who have undergone laminectomy are typically encouraged to keep some basic tips in mind for optimal results while recovering from these surgeries. Keeping the incision site clean and dry is essential. Failure to do this can results in serious and painful infection. Additionally, watching the incision for signs of drainage, and alerting a physician if and when this occurs is also very important. In many cases, individuals who have undergone this treatment must be supervised for several weeks in order to ensure complete healing.

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