What is Minimally-Invasive Lumbar Microdecompression?
Minimally-invasive lumbar microdecompression surgery is a procedure that can effectively reduce pain caused by impingement of the nerves in the lower spine. The nerves of the spine are very sensitive tissues that relay messages between different parts of the body. However, this uninterrupted cord of communication is subject to the wear and tear of daily life and sometimes acute injuries such as a car accident.
A minimally-invasive lumbar microdecompression procedure is ideal for treating conditions that cause pressure on the spinal nerves, such as lumbar spinal stenosis. It will attend to the cause of the symptoms, providing pain relief as well as improved mobility in patients. A minimally-invasive lumbar decompression procedure can also benefit those patients whose pain is the result of excess ligament. Using imaging technology to guide the procedure, Dr. Lipani will insert specialized instruments through the small incision to remove the ligament and bone putting pressure on your spinal canal.
Minimally-invasive lumbar microdecompression offers several benefits over traditional surgical approaches, including:
- Only a one-inch incision needs to be made
- It is typically an outpatient procedure
- Complications are rare
- No implants are used
- Recovery time is minimal, with patients generally returning to work and light activity in approximately one week
Minimally-Invasive Lumbar Microdecompression Procedure
To begin a minimally-invasive lumbar microdecompression surgery, the patient is given general anesthesia and positioned lying face down on the operating table. An X-ray device is used to determine the vertebral level that requires treatment. Dr. Lipani then makes a tiny incision in the middle of the back near the targeted portion of the spine.
A series of dilators are inserted to gently separate the muscle tissue with minimal disruption. Once the spine is visible, Dr. Lipani will use a special microscope and tools to remove the lamina, all bone spurs and any ligaments or disc matter that have been putting pressure on the nerve root. Dr. Lipani can then move to the other side of the vertebrae through the single incision that had been made. The same process of bone and tissue removal will take place on the opposing side if needed to decompress the nerve root there as well. Once this has been completed and Dr. Lipani can see through the microscope that the nerve tissue at that level of vertebrae is no longer compressed, the surgical tools will be withdrawn and the incision sutured closed. The entire procedure typically lasts for one hour.
There are major advantages to performing a lumbar microdecompression procedure using these minimally-invasive techniques rather than in a traditional open manner. Not only is the incision much smaller, resulting in less scarring, but fewer tissues within the back are disturbed and there is less blood loss. The muscles are separated rather than cut, which helps to preserve their integrity and minimizes bruising. Additionally, a smaller amount of bone may be removed from the vertebrae, maintaining spinal stability and avoiding the need to affix any type of hardware. The recovery period is also much more comfortable and shorter than after undergoing an open version of the same surgery.
Recovery from Minimally-Invasive Lumbar Microdecompression
After a minimally-invasive lumbar microdecompression procedure, most patients can return home the same day. Patients are encouraged to walk right away. If a patient is experiencing some pain, medication will be provided but it is typically not needed for more than two weeks.
Certain activities including lifting heavy objects, sitting upright for a long period of time and bending from the waist will be restricted for the first few weeks. A physical therapy regimen may be recommended to help restore strength and flexibility in the back. Most patients can return to work after one week if there is no physical exertion involved.
Risks of Minimally-Invasive Lumbar Microdecompression
Minimally-invasive lumbar microdecompression is considered to be a very safe procedure with few risks. However, all surgeries carry some form of risk. The complications that are, in rare instances, associated with this procedure include infection, recurrent disc herniation, damage to the nerve root and persistent pain.
What Is the Success Rate of Microdecompression?
The success rate of microdecompression will depend on the surgeon’s level of expertise, the reason why it is being performed, and the patient’s overall health. In many cases, the success rate of microdecompression can be between 70 to 90 percent. However, it is important to consult with an experienced surgeon who has deep knowledge of the procedure.
Is Microdecompression a Permanent Solution?
Microdecompression offers long-lasting relief for most patients. However, permanency depends on the patient’s age, underlying medical conditions, and lifestyle choices. Some patients have microdecompression with complete resolution. Others find that the procedure gave them partial relief from their symptoms.
How Can I Prepare for Microdecompression?
Just like other surgical procedures, there are steps you need to take to prepare for microdecompression. These include:
- Having a complete medical examination.
- Stopping medication as directed by your surgeon.
- Fasting prior to the procedure.
- Avoiding alcohol and stopping tobacco use.
- Arrange for transportation after microdecompression.
How Many Times Will I Need Microdecompression?
Most patients only need to have microdecompression done one time. However, some patients could require follow-up procedures depending on how well they responded to treatment. It is important to note that your surgical result relies heavily on whether you follow your surgeon’s orders preoperatively and postoperatively, and your surgeon’s qualifications.