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Thoracic Laminectomy & Fusion

What Is Thoracic Laminectomy & Fusion?

Thoracic laminectomy and fusion is a combined form of spine surgery performed to relieve chronic back pain. It’s designed to release pressure on a compressed nerve in your neck and/or upper back. This spine procedure is one of the decompression surgeries provided by the experienced surgeons at Premier Brain & Spine that include:

At the New Jersey spine care center, top spine specialists rely on state-of-the-art technology to diagnose the exact source of your pain. Then they provide the most effective treatment, including thoracic laminectomy and fusion surgery.

What Does Thoracic Mean?

The thoracic spine lies between your upper back and lower back. It’s the longest part of your spine, stretching from the base of your neck down to your abdomen. Back pain in the thoracic region of your spine is a less common ailment than lower back pain, but the doctors at the advanced spine surgery center are capable of treating it.

Your lumbar region, which includes your lower back, allows you to bend and twist. The thoracic spine has no movable parts. This rigidity helps you stand and sit, maintaining proper posture. Another important characteristic of the thoracic spine is that it forms the backside of your rib cage, protecting your internal organs like your heart and lungs.

Sometimes, problems associated with the thoracic spine may be due to damage or disease in an internal organ, which is why an NJ ortho specialist reviews your symptoms and prescribes the most appropriate treatments. Organs that can lead to upper back pain include your:

  • Lungs
  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Gallbladder
  • Pancreas

Why Do I Need Thoracic Surgery?

Pain is the most common reason for getting the thoracic laminectomy and fusion surgery. Your New Jersey ortho team may initially suggest conservative treatments to relieve your discomfort before resorting to even a minimally invasive procedure. Early treatment options include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic
  • Pain medication
  • Rest and reduced activities
  • Injections

If your pain isn’t relieved within two to four weeks, you may require a surgical approach. Laminectomy with fusion is a procedure used to relieve symptoms such as:

  • Numbness and tingling in your back or neck
  • Chronic pain in your upper back and neck
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty standing up straight
  • Poor balance while walking
  • Bladder and bowel problems

What Are Common Reasons for Thoracic Pain?

Bad posture is a common non-medical reason for pain in your middle back because slouching puts pressure on your spine. Another reason is a sedentary lifestyle. Poor diet and a lack of exercise lead to weakened muscles that can’t support your spine and upper body. You also may develop spinal conditions due to extra weight around your belly, which strains your thoracic region while you walk and stand

In addition to relieving the pain from a compressed nerve in your upper back, your neurosurgery and spine specialist is prepared to treat any underlying conditions that often are a precursor to thoracic pain, including:

School children are also vulnerable to thoracic pain because of heavy school backpacks. The onset of thoracic pain frequently occurs in people under 20 years old and over 50. Consult a NJ orthopedics specialist if you’ve sustained an injury from a fall or a car accident to eliminate any spine problems, another common cause of thoracic pain.

Can I Get a Thoracic Laminectomy Without Fusion?

Whether your doctor recommends getting a laminectomy with or without a spinal fusion depends solely on your spine condition. Fusion surgery helps stabilize your thoracic spine and corrects any deformity by fusing parts of your spine together. Your surgery center specialist may also suggest the additional fusion surgery instead of a disc replacement surgery for certain herniated disc problems. The steps to the thoracic laminectomy with fusion involves:

  1. You lie face down on an operating table, and you’re given general anesthesia
  2. Your surgeon only needs three to five tiny incisions for a minimally invasive laminectomy. Specialized small tools and a camera are used to resolve your spinal issue.
  3. The incisions are closed and sealed.

If your spine condition is more severe, you may need an open surgery. The incision is larger and usually requires a longer recovery time. For an open surgery after the incision:

  1. Your back muscles are pulled to the side, revealing your spine.
  2. Through the opening, the lamina, the arched bony part of the vertebra, is cut away, along with any additional soft tissue that’s causing a narrowing in the spinal canal or pinching a nerve.
  3. By removing the lamina, pinched nerves are also released, giving them more room.
  4. The spinal fusion part of the surgery involves a bone graft that’s usually taken from your pelvis. Your surgery center specialist may use a synthetic material instead of a bone graft.
  5. The bone graft is fused to two or more vertebrae, using metal plates, screws or rods to improve your spine stability.
  6. The incision is sutured closed.

Sometimes you need the laminectomy procedure when getting the spinal cord stimulator device. that’s used for chronic thoracic pain. Your spinal specialist decides what’s needed for you personalized treatment plan after making an accurate diagnosis.

What Happens After Thoracic Laminectomy and Fusion?

While you may feel instant pain relief after the surgery, you need to give your spine time to heal. Your ambulatory surgery center doctor may prescribe medication for the short-term pain. The best aftercare treatment, however, is to keep moving, starting with walks to prevent blood clots and strengthen your back and leg muscles. You may need to wear a brace to keep your spine straight.

Follow the post-op instructions provided at the spine and pain center for a smooth recovery. Expect to need from four to six weeks. Contact your NJ neurosurgery and spine care specialist at Premier Brain & Spine to diagnose and offer the best treatment for all your back pain needs.

Updated on Jul 27, 2022 by Dr. David Wells-Roth (Neurosurgeon) of Premier Brain & Spine

Premier Brain & Spine
10 Parsonage Rd, Suite 208A
Edison, NJ 08837
(732) 258-0190