Type of Surgery
Last updated: 02/17/2009
Aftercare following a laminectomy begins in the hospital. Most patients will remain in the hospital for one to three days after the procedure. During this period the patient will be given fluids and antibiotic medications intravenously to prevent infection....
Medications for pain will be given every three to four hours, or through a device known as a PCA (patient-controlled anesthesia). The PCA is a small pump that delivers a dose of medication into the IV when the patient pushes a button. To get the lungs back to normal functioning, a respiratory therapist will ask the patient to do some simple breathing exercises and begin walking within several hours of surgery.
Aftercare during the hospital stay is also intended to lower the risk of a venous thromboembolism (VTE), or blood clot in the deep veins of the leg. Prevention of VTE involves medications to thin the blood and wearing compression stockings or boots.
Most surgeons prefer to see patients one week after surgery to remove stitches and check for any postoperative complications. Patients should not drive or return to work before their checkup. A second follow-up examination is usually done four to eight weeks after the laminectomy.
Patients can help speed their recovery by taking short walks on a daily basis; avoiding sitting or standing in the same position for long periods of time; taking brief naps during the day; and sleeping on the stomach or the side. They may take a daily bath or shower without needing to cover the incision. The incision should be carefully patted dry, however, rather than rubbed.
Laminectomy is a spine operation to remove the portion of the vertebral bone called the lamina. There are many variations of laminectomy, in the most minimal form small skin incisions are made, back muscles are pushed aside rather than cut, and the parts of the vertebra adjacent to the lamina are left intact. The traditional form of laminectomy (conventional laminectomy) excises much more than just the lamina, the entire posterior backbone is removed, along with overlying ligaments and muscles. The usual recovery period is very different depending on which type of laminectomy has been performed: days in the minimal procedure, and weeks to months with conventional open surgery.
Even patients who had a single metastasis surgically removed should have radiation therapy as there are always individual tumor cells remaining.
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