Thoracic refers to anything having to do with the spine in the upper and mid-back, and laminectomy is the removal of the lamina–or section of bone that forms the “roof” over the spinal canal.
A narrowing of the spinal canal can cause painful pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
Sometimes the source of this narrowing is a tumor that has spread to the thoracic region of the spine and is pushing on the spinal cord. Tumor removal is one of the most common reasons a thoracic laminectomy is performed.
During this procedure, the lamina from vertebral bodies is removed, providing access to remove the tumor and eliminate pressure on the spinal cord. After removing bone, instrumentation can be added to stabilize the vertebrae.
About the procedure
First, an incision is made along the middle of the back. Once the spine is exposed, surgical instruments are used to remove the spinous processes. Next, the lamina portions of affected vertebrae are removed, providing access to the tumor.
Surgical instruments are used to remove the tumor. Removing both the tumor and overlying bone that was pushing it into the spinal cord relieves the compression and pain. Instrumentation is then introduced to support the spine. Holes are made in the pedicle of intact vertebrae and screws are placed in the drilled holes followed by rods that are positioned between the screws and fastened in place. The rod and screw instrumentation provide stability to the spine.
The incision is closed and dressed to complete the surgery. Radiation treatments are frequently used 2-4 weeks after surgery to treat any tumor remaining in the spine.
By adding the instrumentation after the laminectomy, it increases the strength of the spine and may decrease the need for a post-operative brace. Following surgery, patients should avoid heavy lifting, bending, twisting, and turning for six to twelve weeks.
To learn more about this procedure, watch this informational video.
Contact Pacific Spine Specialists
Dr. Timothy Keenen and the team of healthcare professionals at Pacific Spine Specialists pride themselves on providing high-quality, personalized care for the treatment of a variety of spinal conditions. While spine surgery is never the first option, in many cases it is the best option. You can trust that Dr. Keenen is dedicated to offering each patient the right surgery for the right reason at the right time.
Learn more about the conditions we treat. If you suffer from one of these conditions, complete our new patient self-referral form or call our new patient coordinator at (503) 885-9391 to find out if one of our surgical solutions may be right for you.