How big is the incision with minimally invasive laminectomy?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

The size of the incision for a minimally invasive laminectomy can vary depending on the specific surgical technique and the individual patient’s anatomy. However, in general, the incision is relatively small and typically measures around 1 inch in length.

The procedure begins with the patient lying face down on the operating table. A skin incision is made to one side of the middle of the back at the surgical level. This incision is usually placed off to the side to avoid disrupting the midline structures of the spine.

Once the incision is made, sequential dilators are inserted into the incision site. These dilators are gradually increased in size to gently split the muscle fibers and create a pathway to the lamina, which is the back part of the spine. This step is important as it allows the surgeon to access the affected area of the spine while minimizing disruption to the surrounding muscles and tissues.

During the dilator placement, the surgeon may use fluoroscopic imaging to guide the placement and ensure accurate positioning. This real-time imaging helps to minimize the risk of damaging nearby structures and allows for precise targeting of the lamina.

Once the dilators have created a pathway to the lamina, specialized instruments are inserted through the incision to remove the lamina bone and any other structures causing compression or impingement on the spinal cord or nerves. These instruments may include small drills or laser devices, which can be used to carefully remove the lamina and create additional space for the spinal cord and nerves.

After the necessary decompression has been achieved, the instruments are removed, and the dilators are gently withdrawn. The small incision is then closed with sutures or adhesive strips, and a sterile dressing is applied to protect the wound.

The use of a minimally invasive approach in a laminectomy allows for smaller incisions compared to traditional open surgery. This can result in several potential benefits for the patient, including reduced post-operative pain, shorter hospital stay, faster recovery, and a smaller scar.

It is important to note that while the incision size is relatively small, the overall success of the procedure depends on the skill and expertise of the surgeon performing the surgery, as well as the specific circumstances and conditions of each individual patient. Therefore, it is essential to consult with a qualified healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate surgical approach for your specific needs.