Spinal canal stenosis (Spinal Stenosis) may cause discomfort on almost any level of the spine. Symptoms include prolonged gradually increasing pain, radiating to the limbs if the nerve root is being pinched. Numbness and muscleweakness may also appear, generally flaring out under strain. With the lumbar spinal area, lower limb fatigue, aching, nerve-related intermittent claudication as well as clumsiness may appear when walking.
If conservative treatment fails to provide relief, surgical treatment may be considered. During surgery, the spinal cord or the nerve’s starting point/points in the area of stenosis can be released by removing part of the vertebral bony structures as well as other thickened connective tissue structures from the posterior side. Occasionaly, the procedure incorporates fusion with various screws, rods and intervertebral implants.
Duration of the Procedure
Spinal canal decompression, or laminectomy, usually takes one to three hours, depending on the number of vertebrae levels being operated. Increasingly, the procedure involves so-called microdecompression through a small opening of less than three centimeters, whereby the surgical treatment targets only the pinched point at the nerve root. In that case, the duration of surgery is approximately one hour.
The patient is discharged from the hospital on the following day after microdecompression, with a sick leave of three weeks. Laminectomy (ablation of the vertebral arch) patients are often of older age, so they are discharged from the hospital within one to three days.
Pros and Cons
Laminectomy will generally provide good relief for walking difficulties and numbness associated with spinal stenosis, while microdecompression will also relieve pain radiation. The surgery is microscope-assisted, enabling excellent exposure, so the risk of nerve root or spinal cord damage is extremely slim.
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