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Minimally Invasive Laminectomy Relieves Lumbar Spinal Stenosis With Faster Patient Recovery Time

Margaret Staubach successfully underwent minimally invasive lumbar laminectomy at the age of 90.

In the past, surgery probably wouldn’t have been considered for treating Margaret Staubach’s lumbar spinal stenosis. That’s because at the age of 90 a traditional laminectomy, which requires a hospital stay and a four-to-six-week recovery period, would have taken too great a toll. But last summer, through the use of endoscopic technology, Margaret underwent a minimally invasive lumbar laminectomy, returned home the same day, and felt immediate relief.

Margaret was diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis after her primary care physician referred her to the Rock Hill office of Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates. She had trouble walking and had experienced severe pain in her legs, which she thought was related to diabetes.

“Lumbar spinal stenosis is a degenerative narrowing of the spinal canal, which causes compression of the spinal nerves and nerve roots,” said practice neurosurgeon Mike Cowan, M.D. “This condition affects the lower spine, and is the reason for the pain that radiated down Margaret’s back and into her thighs and legs.”

“Dr. Cowan told me we would try to avoid surgery,” said Margaret. “They gave me (epidural steroid) injections, but it didn’t help. That’s when we discussed a surgical option.”

“With minimally invasive lumbar laminectomy, we use an endoscope to remove any bone, bone spurs or other material causing spinal sac and nerve root compression, “said practice neurosurgeon Tim Adamson, M.D. “This causes less trauma to muscles and ligaments.”

Only a one-inch incision is required for a minimally invasive lumbar laminectomy, compared to six to eight inches for the traditional procedure. To help illustrate the difference between the new and old procedure, compare the structure of the spine to a house. The roof and sides of the house represent how the spine encases the nerves that run through it. With traditional laminectomy, the surgeon removes the roof in order to get inside and clean out the material causing the compression. With minimally invasive lumbar laminectomy, an endoscope is used, creating a small hole in the roof and cleaning the area from the inside out. This method causes much less trauma to the patient and leaves the spinal structure more stable than the older procedure.

Margaret’s results were immediate. She tried walking after surgery in the recovery room and felt like a different person. “I couldn’t believe I was able to move around so soon. My daughters could tell right away I stood up taller and walked better,” said Margaret. Today, she is still doing well and tries to walk for exercise twice a day.

“It’s just wonderful,” said Margaret of her outcome. “I tell people about Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates all the time. Every day I pray that they are able to help other people that are in the same shape I was in.”


To learn more about spinal stenosis, go to our video library and click on the "conditions" tab.




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