What Is a Hemilaminectomy?
Hemilaminectomy is a surgical technique for relieving extremely painful spine problems. When your vertebrae pinches or restricts your spinal cord or nerve roots, a hemilaminectomy may be the answer.
Your spine acts as the foundation of your central nervous system, as well as the main structure of your skeletal system. When pain flares upon any part of your spine, it can quickly become chronic and debilitating. A hemilaminectomy literally means half a laminectomy, and it involves removing half as much bone from your spine.
Since an early diagnosis means earlier treatment and better results, visit a spine specialist at the first sign of a back problem. Dr. Skovrlj offers all the latest surgical techniques, including minimally invasive spine surgery for:
- A faster recovery period
- Smaller incisions, which means less bleeding
- Lower risk of infection
- Less disruption of your muscles, nerves, and other soft tissue
Why Do I Need a Hemilaminectomy?
While non-surgical treatments can address some back pain, sometimes a more serious spinal condition requires surgical intervention. Your spine may suffer from:
- The wear and tear of arthritis
- An injury in a car accident, sports injury or even a bad fall
- Osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, which increase your risk of getting a lower back sprain or neck injury
Dr. Skovrlj relies on his experience, a physical exam, a medical history and diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, an MRI or a CT scan to determine the most appropriate treatment for your spine condition. If your vertebrae have degraded or been otherwise compromised, a hemilaminectomy may be the right solution to your pain.
What Diagnoses Can Lead to a Hemilaminectomy?
Spinal conditions in your neck that may require a cervical hemilaminectomy include:
- Cervical facet syndrome
- Degenerative joint disease in your neck
- Cervical radiculopathy
- Stenosis in your neck
- Cervical myelopathy
- A cervical spinal cord injury
In your mid-back area, the conditions that may require a thoracic hemilaminectomy include:
- Thoracic radiculopathy
- A spinal deformity in your middle back, also known as a thoracic deformity
- Thoracic myelopathy
Your lower back area is susceptible to many types of injuries and conditions, since it’s constantly under stress. The most common conditions that may require a lumbar hemilaminectomy include:
- Degenerative joint disease in your lower back
- Lumbar radiculopathy
- Lumbar stenosis
- Lumbar myelopathy
- A deformity in your lower spine
- Pars defect
How Does Hemilaminectomy Help?
A hemilaminectomy is usually done in conjunction with other surgeries to address a spinal issue that’s causing you pain. Depending on the problem and its location, your New Jersey spine specialist may recommend a combination such as:
- Laminotomy hemilaminectomy surgery. This dual procedure involves cutting an opening or hole in one of the two lamina bones on a vertebra. The bones form the backside of the spinal canal, protecting the sensitive spinal cord inside. The procedure helps to release the pressure on the root nerves and spinal cord that were being squeezed.
- Hemilaminectomy discectomy surgery. This procedure involves making an opening by cutting off one of the lamina bones. Dr. Skovrlj can then access and remove the herniated disc that’s causing your back pain in a discectomy (ACDF). A herniated disc can happen in your neck, mid-back or lower spine.
- Hemilaminectomy microdiscectomy surgery. This combined procedure involves cutting a small opening in a lamina bone. Then a tiny camera on an endoscope is inserted through the incision to locate the problem area. Specialized surgical tools are passed through the endoscope to retrieve loose disc or bone fragments that are irritating your spinal nerves in a microdiscectomy.
- Lumbar hemilaminectomy discectomy. This combination involves cutting a lamina bone in your lower back or lumbar spine. Then, through the opening, the herniated disc is removed that was causing your low back pain.
- Decompressive hemilaminectomy surgery. This procedure involves cutting a lamina bone and then releasing the compressed spinal nerves for relief. If this is done on your lumbar spine, it’s called a lumbar decompressive hemilaminectomy.
Besides these surgeries, you may also need a spinal fusion, where two or more vertebra are either grafted together or surgically attached with metal hardware. This is more common when all of an intervertebral disc is removed in the procedure.
What Can I Expect after a Hemilaminectomy?
When you go home depends on how extensive your surgery was and what combination of procedures were involved. An overnight stay in a hospital may be required. You may take over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers temporarily to control the pain and speed up your healing process.
Other things to consider:
- Don’t return to your normal chores, like housework, for at least four to six weeks.
- Don’t twist or bend your spine; be careful how you move.
- Walk every day, even twice a day, for up to 30 minutes, which helps get your blood flowing.
- Don’t sit for more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
- Go to physical therapy sessions after about six weeks, depending on your recovery.
- Resume work after two to four weeks, provided you don’t do any physical labor.