Spinal cord and nerve decompression surgeries are a group of surgeries that are designed to relieve pressure on the spinal cords and nerve roots. This pressure on the nerves can be the cause of a variety of symptoms such as chronic pain, numbness and tingling, weakness, unsteadiness, and in some rare cases even neurological deficits. When that pressure is relieved, patients can experience relief from those symptoms.
Spinal decompression surgeries are indicated for spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal cavity, usually caused by thickening ligaments and degeneration of the facet joints. This is what causes the spinal cavity to narrow, putting pressure on your spine or nerve roots. The goal of spinal decompression surgery is to relieve this pressure and there are several procedures available to achieve this goal. Some of the most common spinal decompression procedures are:
Laminectomy: A laminectomy involves the removal of the lamina, a part of the facet joints, and the ligament. By removing the lamina and ligament, pressure on the spinal canal is relieved.
Laminotomy: A laminotomy involves the removal of only a portion of the lamina and ligament. This is less invasive than a laminectomy, leaving more tissue intact and leading to faster recovery times.
Foraminotomy: A foraminotomy is the widening of the foramen, the hollow vessel through which the nerves leave the spinal canal. This relieves pressure on the nerve roots.
Laminoplasty: In a laminoplasty, the lamina is reshaped to relieve pressure on the spinal cord. This procedure is often performed in cases requiring cervical spinal decompression.
Discectomy: The removal of a portion of a bulging/degenerative disc to relieve pressure on the nerves.
Posterior Fossa Decompression: A posterior fossa decompression relieves pressure on the brain stem. This in turn, restores flow of cerebrospinal fluid. The procedure achieves this by removing the bone at the back of the skull and top of the spine.
Why Perform Spinal Cord or Nerve Decompression Surgery?
You may be a candidate for spinal cord or nerve decompression surgery if you suffer from symptoms of spinal stenosis. The symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
Spinal decompression surgery can relieve those symptoms, often giving patient relief after years of suffering.
What Are the Risks of Spinal Cord and Nerve Decompression Surgery?
While spinal decompression surgery can be beneficial, no surgery is entirely without risks. Many of the complications can be mitigated through proper preparation and postoperative care. The main risks of spinal decompression surgery are bleeding, infections, blood clots, nerve injury, and spinal fluid leak.