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Lumbar Decompression

Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression Surgery

Okanagan Health Surgical Centre performs minimally invasive lumbar decompression surgery to relieve the symptoms and pain that is caused by nerve compression. The most common spinal condition that is addressed and corrected using this procedure is spinal stenosis. 

Using minimally invasive techniques, the surgeon makes one very small incision which grants him or her access to the affected area. Because the surgery is minimally invasive in nature, the procedure can be performed in less time and with less disruption or damage to the surrounding tissue when compared to the conventional or traditional open surgical method. This results in less pain for the patient and a quicker recovery time.
 

What Happens During the Surgery

Minimally invasive lumbar decompression surgery is performed while the patient is under general anesthesia. This means you will be unconscious and will not feel any pain or discomfort while the surgery is being performed. With the patient lying face down on a specialized operating table, which allows the surgeon to gain unobstructed access to the affected spinal area, the surgeon will make a small incision roughly 1.5 centimetres in size after the area has been cleaned and sterilized. An X-ray will then be taken to confirm the correct spinal level is being operated on. Soft tissue dilators will then be used to fold back the muscle fibres. After that a tubular retractor is placed over the dilators which are then taken out. The surgeon will then use special tools to remove a portion of the bone which makes up the back of the spinal canal, which is called the lamina. This exposes the spine to the surgeon. Your surgeon will then extricate some soft tissue and some of the overgrown facets which are resulting in pressure, allowing there to be enough space in the spinal canal. While within the surgical area, your surgeon will also search to see if any bone spurs are present which could also contribute to the spinal compression you're experiencing. If any are found, they will be removed as well. 

After the surgery has been completed, the surgeon will gently return the tissue and muscle which had originally been retracted back into place. Strong sutures are then used to stabilize the tissue and muscle. The small incision will then be closed using dissolvable sutures and surgical tape is applied to the area. A small dressing will then be placed over top to cover the spot where the incision was made. 

In total, minimally invasive lumbar decompression surgery typically takes about one hour to be completed. 
 

After Surgery Care

This day procedure allows for the patient to be discharged from the hospital once the effects of general anesthesia wear off. Due to the fact this is a minimally invasive spine surgery, less trauma to the muscles and tissue in the surgical area will have occured. This means there should be very minimal pain experienced by the patient. Your surgeon will provide you with thorough instructions for your postoperative care and you will be instructed to avoid twisting your back or bending over for a minimum of a week or two following the procedure.
 

How Long After Surgery Can I Return to Work or Recreational Activities? 

Compared to the traditional open method of surgery, minimally invasive lumbar decompression surgery features a reduced recovery time. This means you can most likely return to work in a somewhat reduced capacity only a week or two after the procedure. If your recovery continues to go well with your pain subsiding and muscles regaining their strength, you can expect to return to full work and recreational activities 4-6 weeks after surgery.
 

How Successful Is the Surgery?

When it comes to reducing the symptoms associated with spinal stenosis and improving physical functional ability, studies have shown that minimally invasive lumbar decompression surgery is extremely successful, with one such study reporting 80-90 per cent of people saying their nerve-root pain pressure has been relieved.
 

How Much Care Is Required for the Surgical Wound?

Minimal wound care is required due to the minimally invasive nature of the surgery. The dressing you leave the hospital with which covers the area the incision was made should be left on for three days. Once those three days have passed, you may remove the dressing and allow it to be exposed to air. The surgical tape which helps keep the sutures in place should not be removed though, and the area should be kept clean and dry. If you are taking a shower shortly after surgery the wound should be covered with a bandage to make sure water does not get directly on the area. Baths are not recommended until about five days following surgery. 


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