The bones of the spinal cord are separated by spongy cushions, which provide shock absorption and stabilize your spine. A complication with one or more spinal discs can cause serious back and leg pain. If you are diagnosed with disc degeneration disease or herniation, you may need a surgical procedure to remove it. Interlaminar lumbar discectomy is an effective technique for treating patients with herniated lumbar discs.
The surgery uses a minimally invasive procedure, which is more favorable than open surgery. The Interlaminar discectomy for removing problematic lumbar discs involves making small incisions and navigating the muscles through a small tube attached to the camera. This allows the surgeon to reach and remove the herniated disc without damaging the muscles.
In addition to relieving pain from herniated discs, interlaminar lumbar discectomy ensures fewer surgical complications and faster healing. Your spinal cord is a vital part of the body, and a surgical procedure in this area can be overwhelming. For your spine surgery needs in Los Angeles, CA, you will need the expert diagnostic and surgical services we offer at LAMIS.
Understanding Interlaminar Lumbar Discectomy
A lumbar discectomy is a procedure for the removal of a spinal disc. Your spinal cord is cushioned and protected from shock by rubbery discs. When one or more discs are damaged, they could compress the surrounding nerves, causing serious pain and discomfort. This procedure alleviates lower back and leg pain and restores normal body function.
Before your doctor recommends the surgical procedure for disc removal, they may try the following treatment approaches:
- Pain medication. In mild and moderate cases of back pain, your doctor can recommend anti-inflammatories and pain medications to relieve your symptoms.
- Neuropathic drugs. This category of drugs decreases back pain by impacting your nerve impulses.
- Therapy. Your doctor could suggest that you undergo physical therapy to relieve the pain from a problematic disc.
If other treatment options are ineffective, you may need to undergo a discectomy. You may be a candidate for discectomy if the pain and numbness persist. Interlaminar lumbar discectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a fluoroscope to guide the instruments through the surgery. This ensures the incision made is small, and you will experience less scarring from the procedure.
Indications for Interlaminar Lumbar Discectomy
Your doctor would recommend the removal of your problematic spinal disc if you are diagnosed with the following conditions:
Lumbar Disc Herniation
A herniated disc is a problem with one of the rubbery discs that cushion and protect the spinal cord from the shock of everyday activities. A herniated disc occurs when the disc has a tear or injury. You may be diagnosed with lumbar disc herniation if the disc damage is on the lower part of your back. You may be at increased risk of lumbar disc herniation under the following circumstances:
- Weight. Excessive body weight causes extra pressure on the discs of the lower back, which could damage them.
- Occupation. Individuals who perform physically demanding jobs like repetitive pushing and pulling of heavy objects could strain their backs.
- Genetics. You could inherit a predisposition to spinal disc problems from your family.
- Smoking. Smoking lessens the oxygen supply to your spinal discs, which could cause them to break down.
A herniated lumbar disc will press against the nearby nerve, causing inflammation and pain that radiates throughout the length of the nerve. You could experience the following symptoms if you have a herniated disc:
- Leg pain. Leg pain is worse in cases of herniated discs than back pain. If the pain in your leg radiates along the sciatic nerve, you may need to have the lumbar disc removed.
- Nerve pain. The most noticeable symptom of a herniated disc is sharp, radiating pain in the nerve.
- Foot drop. When there is extreme compression of a lumbar disc, you could experience symptoms like difficulty lifting your foot or walking.
If you consult your doctor about these symptoms, the following tests will be performed to diagnose lumbar disc herniation:
- X-ray. Electromagnetic energy beams produce images of the internal tissues and organs on film.
- Magnetic resonance imaging. The MRI procedure uses large magnetic frequencies to produce images of your internal body parts.
- Electromyography. This test measures your muscle response to nerve stimulation and electrical activity.
Interlaminar Lumbar Discectomy Procedure
The process of removing your problematic spinal discs through the Interlaminar approach follows these steps:
- Application of anesthesia. While you lie on your abdomen, the surgeon will apply anesthesia to prevent pain and discomfort during the surgery. Additionally, they will sterilize the area to prevent infection.
- Incision of the lower back. The surgeon makes small incisions in your lower back and inserts a thin tube to locate the problematic disc with a fluoroscope.
- The muscles lying over the herniated disc are moved aside to create a space for the surgical instruments to access the problematic disc.
- Removal of disc fragments. A discectomy is performed to remove an inflamed or damaged disc, and the surgeon will remove the lamina and retract the protective sack of the nerve root to remove the disc. Sometimes, the damaged disc is in fragments. The surgeon will remove the fragments and return the muscles to their original position.
- Closing the incision. The skin and muscles are sown to close up the wound, marking the surgery's end.
Aftercare Tips for an Interlaminar Lumbar Discectomy
You may expect a faster recovery with the Interlaminar approach to lumbar discectomy. Since the procedure is minimally invasive, it is done outpatient, and you can go home as soon as the anesthesia wears off. Your pain and numbness may clear within two to six months of the procedure. Additionally, you will be able to regain muscle strength over time.
Your surgeon will advise you on the following aftercare tips to ensure a faster recovery and avoid complications:
- Follow-up visit. Two weeks after removing your problematic lumbar disc, you should return for a follow-up. This visit allows your surgeon to review your recovery progress from back pain and the healing of your incisions. You may also need to make another visit after eight weeks to ensure your recovery process remains on track.
- Physical activity. You can return to your normal activities as soon as it feels comfortable. However, you must avoid heavy lifting and vigorous contact sports. Depending on the nature of your work, you could return within two to six weeks.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese is associated with unfavorable outcomes for lumbar discectomy. Until you have fully recovered, you must focus on a weight-reduction diet.
- Care for the incision site. The surgeon will cover the incision sites with surgical tape. You must keep the area clean and avoid contact with water. This speeds up the healing process and prevents infections.
- Take your medication. You must take anti-inflammatory and pain medications as you recover from the surgery and your underlying condition. Non-compliance with prescription medication can cause complications that affect your health and well-being.
- Continued physical therapy. After your Interlaminar lumbar discectomy, your surgeon will recommend that you continue with physical therapy for a faster recovery.
Benefits of Interlaminar Lumbar Discectomy
A surgical procedure for the spinal cord can be overwhelming. Although discectomy is used to relieve pain and reduce spine complications from the damaged disc, an unfavorable outcome of the surgery could have devastating effects on your life. Fortunately, Interlaminar lumbar discectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that offers the following benefits:
Avoid Large Incisions
Lumbar discectomy done with the Interlaminar approach uses a minimally invasive surgical technique. The surgery will be done through a single, long incision that reaches the problematic disc through all skin and muscle layers. Tissues will be moved aside to avoid making multiple incisions. In addition to relief from the problematic disc, this procedure has a fast recovery rate and a lower possibility of infection at the incision areas.
Less Time Spent in Surgery
The spine is a critical part of our bodies. Being in the operating room for a long time while undergoing a discectomy could create anxiety. Since Interlaminar lumbar discectomy involves making minor incisions, the procedure will require less time.
Less Painful Procedure
Adding to the pain of herniated and damaged discs with surgical pain could take a toll on you. Unlike the traditional procedures, which require a complete spine opening, the Interlaminar lumbar discectomy involves tiny incisions. This helps reduce the pain and discomfort you experience from the procedure.
Additionally, you can return to your activities sooner without worrying about extensive postoperative care.
Superior Cosmetic results
With the tradition of open lumbar discectomy, patients are left with huge back scars, which is undesirable. The small scars from this minimally invasive surgery ensure superior cosmetic results.
Saves your Muscle
Using the Interlaminar approach for the removal of problematic lower back spinal discs ensures that your muscle mass remains intact. Instead of removing the muscles to access the herniated disc, the surgeon will move the muscles aside and return them to their original position before closing the incisions.
Lower Risk of Complications
Traditional surgical procedures on the spine require long incisions to reach the problematic disc and remove it. This procedure carries an increased risk of complications, including excessive bleeding and the possibility of infection at the incision site.
Interlaminar lumbar discectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves small incisions. This reduces blood loss and the risk of other complications that could impact your healing process.
Complications of Interlaminar Lumbar Discectomy
Although the minimally invasive approach of the Interlaminar lumbar discectomy reduces complications, all surgical procedures have risks. The following complications could arise after the lumbar discectomy procedure:
- Procedure failure. Your orthopedic surgeon will recommend Interlaminar lumbar discectomy when other treatment approaches for your back and lower leg have failed to resolve the problem. Unfortunately, there are times when removing the problematic disc will not resolve the underlying pain. This could be seen in the prolonged pain after the surgical procedure.
- Nerve injury. The pain from a bulging or herniated disc occurs when the disc compresses the nearby nerves. The nerve could suffer further damage when removing the damaged disc. A surgeon must be careful when handling the nerve tissues to avoid damage that could cause further pain and numbness.
- Excessive bleeding. Interlaminar lumbar discectomy involves making small incisions on the lower back to access the problematic disc, ensuring minimal bleeding. However, if you have underlying blood complications or are taking blood-thinning medications, you could experience excessive bleeding. You can avoid these complications by disclosing your full medical history to your surgeon before the procedure. If you are still a good candidate for discectomy, you could be advised to stop the medication for at least two weeks before the procedure.
- Negative reaction to anesthesia. Your surgeon will use anesthesia to minimize the pain and discomfort associated with the procedure. Different people may react differently to anesthesia. Therefore, you must inform the surgeon of your underlying allergies to the medication before proceeding with the procedure.
- Infection. Although the incision area will be properly sterilized to minimize infection, some people could develop an infection after an Interlaminar lumbar discectomy. The symptoms of infection could include fever, pus oozing from the incision area, and prolonged pain.
Find a Competent Neurointerventional Spine Surgeon Near Me
Your doctor could recommend a lumbar discectomy if you have a serious degenerative disc disease or a herniated disc. When you consult the doctor with symptoms like severe pain in the lower leg and back pain, they could explore other approaches like medication and therapy before removing the disc through lumbar discectomy.
The Interlaminar approach to lumbar discectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows the surgeon to locate and remove a damaged disc without interfering with your body's muscles. This procedure is done outpatient, and its recovery rate is quick. This allows you to return to your normal activities faster and avoid the complications of spinal surgery.
Even with the minimally invasive technique, complications like bleeding, damage to the spine, and infection are not uncommon with spine surgery. At LAMIS, we offer safe and reliable spine surgery services for all our Los Angeles, CA, clients. Call us at 310-734-6088 for a consultation.