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What is the procedure used in laminectomy surgery?

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Quick Answer

Traditional laminectomy involves the creation of a 2- to 6-inch incision in the midline of the back, retracting the left and right back muscles and removing some bone to decompress the spinal cord or nerves, according to Spine-Health. While laminectomy historically required open surgery, advances in technology now allow minimally invasive techniques that result in less muscle damage, less pain and faster recovery periods.

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What is the procedure used in laminectomy surgery?
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Full Answer

A major drawback of traditional surgery is the damage that occurs when the surgeon retracts the back muscles to allow access to the spine, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Patients who have had open surgery can experience post-operative pain that is different than the type of pain that preceded the operation.

In minimally invasive or less-invasive surgery, a tubular retractor is inserted in the back. This creates a tunnel to the surgical area and holds the muscles apart during the procedure. Bone or disc material can be removed through the retractor. The surgeon uses fluoroscopy to watch real-time x-ray images on a screen during the operation. An operating microscope illuminates and magnifies the area through the retractor. Although minimally invasive surgery is preferable in many cases, some back and neck problems are not yet treatable with this technique, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

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