DLL or Decompressive Lumbar Laminectomy

The majority of back pain sufferers are individuals who have experienced degenerative changes to the lumbar spine’s intervertebral discs as well as the joints that sit between each of the vertebra.

Though the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases suggests that approximately 8 out of every 10 Americans are destined to suffer from back discomfort of one type or another during their lifetimes, most will never require any sort of surgical intervention.

Unfortunately, however, there are situations in which the degenerative progress within the lumbar area can end up causing excessive amounts of pressure on the network of nerves contained in the spinal canal, placing them at real risk.

Patients who find themselves facing this particular circumstance may wish to consider undergoing decompressive lumbar laminectomy (DLL).

This minimally invasive procedure works to reduce this dangerous level of pressure on spinal nerves by enlarging the canal in which they sit and can provide much needed relief from the frequently debilitating symptoms of spinal stenosis.

Key Facts About Lumbar Laminectomy

Thought to be the most commonly performed surgical procedure intended to address lumbar spinal stenosis, decompressive laminectomy helps alleviate pressure on nerve roots within the spinal canal. This pressure typically develops as a result of age-related degeneration, but can also be caused by spinal injury, tumors or herniated discs.

The surgery itself serves to increase available space for the nerves to inhabit by removal of the lamina, which is the back portion of the vertebra covering the canal itself.

This procedure is generally offered when conventional, non-surgical treatments including physical therapy, drug treatments, and injections have not yielded the desired level of pain relief. It may also be utilized to help patients who are experiencing mobility loss, muscle weakness or reductions in bladder or bowel control due to nerve compression.

How the Procedure Works

Traditional decompressive lumbar laminectomy begins with an incision made in the middle of the patient’s lower back area. The surgeon will then move the muscles over the side in order to provide access to the spine. Each of the patient’s vertebra will be specifically identified so that the surgeon can verify which portion of lamina needs to be removed. The laminectomy may then be commenced, and bone spurs which may also be present will be eliminated at the same time. Because such a delicate, functional area is involved, the surgeon will take all possible measures to preserve the integrity of the spinal nerves.

Many spinal surgeons have shifted in the direction of performing primarily minimally invasive laminectomies for treating lumbar stenosis, for a variety of reasons.

This type of procedure utilizes much smaller incisions than the conventional alternative, and employee camera-guided surgical tools to remove the lamina and perform any spinal fusion work deemed necessary. Important advantages of minimally invasive procedures such as this include shorter recovery times, less post-operative discomfort, lower blood loss and lower risk of spine destabilization.

Because patients with existing surgical scar tissue, those with spinal deformities or individuals afflicted with other health conditions may not be strong candidates for this type of procedure, it is important for each one to consult with an experienced surgeon to determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

Benefits of Decompressive Laminectomy

As with all surgical interventions, decompressive lumbar laminectomy does carry with it the possibility of complications. Spinal surgery brings risks that can include a worsening of impairment and pain, a need for additional procedures, nerve damage, infection, blood clots and anesthesia-related issues.

However, complications are in fact quite rare, and most patients undergoing this type of procedure experience noticeable lessening of their prior symptoms for a significant period of time, with some achieving permanent results.

Though there is no cure for spinal stenosis, those affected by it need not quietly accept a life characterized by pain, weakness and reduced mobility.

Decompressive lumbar laminectomy (DLL) has given countless patients a new lease on the active lifestyle they have long enjoyed and is an option worthy of real consideration by anyone plagued by chronic discomfort. To learn more about how this procedure can help you or someone you love, contact us today.