Laminectomy For Herniated Disk
What you should know
Laminectomy For Herniated Disk (Precare) Care Guide
- A laminectomy (lam-ih-NEK-tuh-mee) is surgery to take out the bony arches (lamina) of one or more of the bones in your back. A disk (tough sac filled with a jelly-like substance) sits between each of the bones in the back and neck. These disks act as shock absorbers. The cover of the sac may weaken and leak or bulge out. This is called a ruptured (RUP-sherd) or herniated (HER-nee-a-ted) disk. After a sudden jarring injury, the disk, or part of the disk, may herniate and need to be removed. Increasing age may also cause a disk to weaken and herniate.
- A herniated disk may put pressure on a nerve or the spinal cord. This pressure can make one leg or arm hurt or become numb. The muscles in that leg or arm may even get smaller. This is called muscle wasting. You will have tests, such as a CT scan or MRI, to see how bad your injury is. You may have already tried bedrest, medicines like ibuprofen (i-bew-PRO-fin), a chiropractor (KI-ro-prak-ter), or physical therapy. If these treatments did not make your problems go away, you may need surgery.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
- There are always risks with surgery. You may bleed more than usual or get an infection. Even if surgery is done correctly, nerves in the area where the disk is removed could be injured. You may have numbness or pain along a nerve path. This may cause problems with your muscles like paralysis (loss of movement). You may have problems controlling your bowel or bladder. You may become impotent. This means a man may not be able to have an erection.
- You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This can cause pain and swelling, and it can stop blood from flowing where it needs to go in your body. The blood clot can break loose and travel to your lungs. A blood clot in your lungs can cause chest pain and trouble breathing. This problem can be life-threatening.
- Your spine may be unstable (weak) because bone was removed during surgery. You may need to have surgery later to fuse (lock) that part of your spine. The dura (tough tissue covering the spinal cord) may be torn, causing fluid to leak out of the spinal cord. You may need to lie flat in bed for a time, or need more surgery because of this. Problems after surgery may be short or long-term. If you do not have a laminectomy, your pain and other back problems may get worse. In time, you may need surgery to repair or remove more disks, and your recovery may take longer. Call your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your medicine or care.
The Week Before Surgery:
- Ask your caregiver if you need to stop taking aspirin or any other blood thinning medicines before your procedure.
- You may need blood tests before your procedure. Talk to your caregiver about these or other tests you may need. Write down the date, time and location for each test
The Night Before Surgery:
- You may be given a pill to help you sleep.
- Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.
The Day of Surgery:
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
- Ask your caregiver before taking any medicine on the day or surgery. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of your medicines with you to the hospital.
- Do not wear contact lenses the day of surgery. You may wear your glasses.
- Bring your personal belongings (bathrobe, toothbrush) with you to the hospital. Do not wear jewelry or bring money to the hospital.
- An anesthesiologist (an-iss-thee-z-ALL-o-jist) may talk to you before surgery. This is the caregiver who gives you medicine to make you sleepy during surgery.
- Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
What Will Happen:
- You will be asked to change into a hospital gown. You may be given medicine in your IV to help you relax or make you drowsy. You will be taken on a cart to the operating room. To keep you completely asleep, you will get general anesthesia. After you go to sleep, you will be turned onto your stomach or on your side. A belt will be put over your legs for safety.
- Your caregiver will clean your back and neck with soap and water. This soap may make your skin yellow, but it will be cleaned off later. Sheets will be put over you. An incision (cut) will be made over the herniated disk or disks. The herniated disk, or part of the herniated disk, will be removed. The incision will be closed with stitches or staples.
You will be taken to a recovery room. You will be there until you wake up. You will then be taken back to your room. A bandage will cover your stitches/staples. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is OK.
This is a room where your family can wait until you are ready for visitors after surgery. Your doctor or nurse can then find them to let them know how the surgery went. If your family leaves the hospital, ask them to leave a phone number where they can be reached. When it is time for you to go home after surgery, someone should drive you home. Do not drive home alone.
Contact a caregiver if
- You have a fever.
- You cannot control when you have a BM or urinate.
- The problems for which you are having surgery get worse.
- You have questions or concerns about your surgery.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.