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Thread: Laminotomy / Laminectomy

  1. #1

    Question Laminotomy / Laminectomy

    Hi all;

    It looks like I will be having a laminotomy/laminectomy at C3, next month to relieve pressure on the spinal cord. The doctor will do a posterior approach. I see the doctor next week, so I don't have too many details at this time. Has anyone else undergone this surgery? What can you tell me about it? What were your experiences with recovery, pain, etc? I had a cervical fusion C4-7 a couple years ago and that was not fun. I'm concerned that I need another surgery already and it looks like there will be more down the line.

    Anyone? Experiences? Advice?

  2. #2
    Senior Member keps's Avatar
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    Hi there. I don't know how useful my input will be.

    I had a T2-T4 laminectomy. I'll be honest - it really hurt. I was in some pain for about a month. I'd say take any painkillers they offer you after surgery, lol.

    Apart from that, it's healed fine. You will be able to feel with your fingers (if they're ok) the "knobbly" bit that has been removed. It makes me feel queasy to touch where my laminae (sp)are missing, so I don't.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Van Quad's Avatar
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    My experience with a laminectomy was three weeks ago. I had it done from C3 to C6 to resolve a narrowing. The surgery restored the strength to my right arm and resolved the shoulder pain. No duraplasty or fusion was required. So mine was a positive outcome.

  4. #4
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    I had a full cervical laminectomy so don't expect much of my experience will translate well to one level, but I would advise:
    1. Be prepared for a lot of pain and see if you can come up with any alternatives to narcotics, because they're nasty things too.
    2. Really be religious about doing the exercises and postural things they suggest, because once you heal wrong it's very difficult to go back. I didn't get a flat enough pillow and now have a perpetual cervical kyphosis.
    3. Plan ahead for ways to shower and wash your hair, use the bathroom, eat, read, work on the computer... because just about everything is a painful challenge. Get a bed tray or something to put on the table so your food is at face height and you don't have to flex to eat. Maybe buy some dry shampoo. Get an indwelling catheter for a couple days because you won't feel like doing any of the other routes.
    4. You may find chewing a challenge so stock up on ice cream and shakes and broth.
    5. Get a voice activated a speaker phone.
    6. If you're paranoid about forgetting things like I am, get a handheld recorder.
    7. Don't expect you'll be able to do it all without help.

    Good luck!

  5. #5
    Hi noescape
    I had mind done about 3 years ago had a blood clot in the spinal colm it bent the spinal colm and caused damage to the nervers on my left side. The dr removed in and I have had no further problems preventing damage to my right side. The damage done on my left side is permenant and can not be repaired. It is no picnick but has to be done the longer you wait you can end up with permenant problems. I was out of work for 2 and half mounths. Was in the hospital overnight and dischared the next day. It was close to a month before I felt normal again. I only took pain medicatrion for the firs couple of days and did not take it after that I did not have much pain. This surgury was thru the front of the neck and I had two on the back of the neck many years ago. Good luck and let us know how you make out

  6. #6
    My laminectomies [C7 to T4 and then C2 to C6] were both done to give the neurosurgeons access to the cord so they could remove a tumor that was intertwined with the cord. Random's advice nails it, especially about doing everything possible to avoid kyphosis. Ask about using a soft collar when riding in the car or being out and about for added support as you heal.
    Last edited by thehipcrip; 10-20-2011 at 03:31 PM. Reason: give proper credit for brilliance
    It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.

    ~Julius Caesar


  7. #7
    Senior Member Van Quad's Avatar
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    Worried about forgetting something?!? You remembered some great points.
    1-if you use the narcotics be prepared for the constipation
    2-nobody told me about pillows but I quickly realized that my contoured Obus Form one was no longer comfortable
    3-this is the biggest pain. Showering from the bottom up is not as satisfying. And shampooing your hair now takes three times longer. The dry shampoo is a good idea

    7-if you use care aides, have them help you in the hospital just like they do at home because everyone is short staffed

    Quote Originally Posted by Random View Post
    I had a full cervical laminectomy so don't expect much of my experience will translate well to one level, but I would advise:
    1. Be prepared for a lot of pain and see if you can come up with any alternatives to narcotics, because they're nasty things too.
    2. Really be religious about doing the exercises and postural things they suggest, because once you heal wrong it's very difficult to go back. I didn't get a flat enough pillow and now have a perpetual cervical kyphosis.
    3. Plan ahead for ways to shower and wash your hair, use the bathroom, eat, read, work on the computer... because just about everything is a painful challenge. Get a bed tray or something to put on the table so your food is at face height and you don't have to flex to eat. Maybe buy some dry shampoo. Get an indwelling catheter for a couple days because you won't feel like doing any of the other routes.
    4. You may find chewing a challenge so stock up on ice cream and shakes and broth.
    5. Get a voice activated a speaker phone.
    6. If you're paranoid about forgetting things like I am, get a handheld recorder.
    7. Don't expect you'll be able to do it all without help.

    Good luck!

  8. #8
    Thanks for all the input!! It's all very helpful. I was concerned about the pain. The ACDF C4-7 was the worst surgery I've ever had - pain wise. I generally don't take painkillers, but I did then!

    Van Quad: I hope to have as positive an outcome as you have! I would really like to use my arms without them hurting anymore.

    Random: Wow! Thanks so much for the advice. I had thought about dry shampoo, but wasn't sure. Good to know about the other stuff, too. I'll have to think about how I'll accomplish a few tasks.

    Unfortunately, I have a terrible fear of surgeries, and this surgery is just scaring the heck out of me. I know I need to do it. I've already procrastinated three months since the neurosurgeon first suggested it.... It helps me to know what's ahead. Thank you all so much for your responses!!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Revis's Avatar
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    I endured a posterior cervical laminectomy on my C-3 thru C-6 on 1-18-2011. The posterior approach is far more painful than anterior due to the displacing of the neck muscles to access the laminae. So, expect pain, I'm sorry to say. Since your surgery only involves one vertebrae your recovery may be better than mine. Discomfort and pain persisted beyond 3 months. Was on hydrocodone for the pain immediately afterwards. Weaned myself off of that stuff about 2 weeks later. I continue to have bad days when my neck gets stiff and the muscles between my shoulder blades get really tense. Advil helps on those days. After about 5 weeks my neurosurgeon released me to go to my PT. He showed me how to do neck stretching exercises that I continue to do now, even 7 months later. They've helped a lot. Also, I roll my back (not my neck!) on a hard styrofoam roller to loosen the tight muscles in my back. Would agree with the use of a very flat pillow. I now sleep most nights on my side, but use a knee pillow (memory foam) to avoid pelvic and back problems. Seems to be better on my neck. Really hope it goes well for you.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Revis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Quad View Post
    My experience with a laminectomy was three weeks ago. I had it done from C3 to C6 to resolve a narrowing. The surgery restored the strength to my right arm and resolved the shoulder pain. No duraplasty or fusion was required. So mine was a positive outcome.
    Van Quad, how did your follow-up exam go? Did you ask your doc about stability issues with C-3 thru C-6 lammies? Would like to know what he said, if you discussed this with him. Thanks!
    CCS/Walking Quad

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