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Hemilaminotomy & Foraminotomy

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,670
I have a slipped disc (L5) and a pinched nerve which causes severe sciatica pain. Have been dealing with it for the last 5 years. Have visited 3 doctors and out of the 3, 2 suggested a fusion and 1 recommended the referenced procedure which is less invasive given the scope of my job (lifting and being on my feet for 8 hours). Was wondering if anyone has had the referenced procedure done and what was the end result, how long ago, have any of the symptoms reoccurred. Any advise is appreciated. Have to make a decision asap.



  • Hi,

    I had a Hemilaminotomy, Foraminotomy, and Mesial Facectemony in Jan. 2009, on the L5 S1. I had a severe compression, with a piece of bone resting on the S1 nerve root, for almost 1 year, and could not do anything. I could not sit for 1 year either. So far, I have had lots of improvements, but the sitting has been really slow to come back, and I can sit for only 20 to 30 minutes at a time. But, that said, I can walk, do lots of things that I could not do, be in the yard, go to the grocery, etc. If I could sit better, I would have to say, that I would have my life back. I still have swelling from the surgery, and I am seeing my Neurosurgeon in 2 weeks, to address the sitting, and swelling. I know I overdo, and I have done 12 weeks of PT. I had horrible muscle wasting on my left side, and although my left leg is still smaller, it is getting bigger, with muscle starting to fill in. It is a long recovery, and nerves take a long time to heal. So, would I do it again, "YES", as it has given me a good part of my life back. Now if I can just get the sitting worked out, I will be all smiles!!!! But, I was totally disabled, and my injury did not show up on the MRI, so it went on way to long. When a EMG showed the damage, the surgeon walked in, and said, we are doing surgery now! So, that is only my opinion, and I did get a second opinion, and both were in total agreement, as was my son-in-law, who is a surgeon, so I guess I had 3 opinions. Positive outlook is also so important. Good luck, and if I can be of any help, just message me.

    sweetpotatoe57 :)))

  • Thank you for your response and positive twist to the procedure. I am so worried but have scheduled my procedure for the 23rd of July. I had initially scheduled it for the 30th of June and then after visiting 4 doctors for opinions I cancelled and decided to have a fusion. However, the more I read about the fusion, I got more confused and worried. Needless to say, I cancelled the fusion and opted for the hemilaminotomy and foraminotomy. My worst fear is that I work in the restaurant business and am constantly on my feet and was wondering how that will affect my job. Do you work and if you do how long were you off from work and do you have an office job or are you on your feet like myself. I have had this problem for the last 5 years but it has just progressed and will not have insurance after November so I was aggressive and sought treatment. I hope I am making the right decision. Are you able to bend down and how soon after surgery were you able to drive? Sorry about all the questions. I had posted this message and was so happy that finally someone had responded. Once again, thanks for your response and sorry to bombard you with all these questions. Look forward to hearing from you. Sincerly appreciate your time


  • Many doctors would propose fusion as being the more durable of the two surgeries. But it also has more possibilities for complications.

    I have had both procedures and I would start with the lami/foraminotomy. You can always do the fusion later if it becomes necessary. You cannot go back from a fusion! Plus, it is a much easier procedure with a much quicker recovery.

    The key will be to not rush back to work too soon. You will always hear to avoid any activity that involves bending, twisting, reaching or lifting heavier than a gallon of milk. This is standard advice and you will be wise to adhere to it until you are well-healed.

    After surgery you will always have some restrictions if you want to preserve the health of your back. There will be a weak spot where the bone has been removed. If you just use common sense, you should be alright. Do not offer to help a friend move, for example. It will be important to use good body mechanics and posture.

    It has been 19 months since my fusion. I am perfectly flexible and can bend easily. However, I usually regret it the next day as it does create some pain afterward. I would be very unhappy if I were a professional gardener, for example. I could do the work, but I would pay the price.

    The second procedure I had a year later was the lami-foraminotomy and it was a piece of cake compared to the fusion. I had open surgery and stayed overnight in the hospital. I came home and felt so great that it was hard to rein myself in from doing too much! My doctor said this is his main problem after this procedure. People who have been in pain so long and suddenly have relief want to do everything they haven't been able to do, and, all at the same time, at that moment!! They inevitably overdo it and live to regret it.

    Good luck with your surgery. Hopefully it will take care of your problem and that will be the end of it!!

    xx Gwennie
  • Thanks for writing. I am so thankful to God that I decided against the fusion. I almost got it done and then cancelled 2 days before. I had read so much about it online and it just put me off. Besides I don't have the luxury to be off from my job for a long period.

    How long after the foraminotomy did you get relief from your pain? I hope 2 weeks off from work will be enough.

    Again, thanks for taking the time to respond.

    Thank you.
  • Well, I'm not the right person to ask. I felt fabulous for about ten days...and that was pretty much the end. Now I am right back to where I was prior to my fusion and the lami-foraminotomy.

    Don't be discouraged by my experience. I'm just one of the unlucky ones who has something going on with a nerve that has four specialists stumped. Both my surgeries were technically successful. They just didn't take away the pain. :(

    Two weeks off is pushing it a little bit, but it depends what your job involves. But I was feeling fully recovered after a week and I'm sure others went back to work after two weeks. Just plan on doing little else in the beginning -- no housework or laundry when you get home from work. Put your feet up and relax for several more weeks to give yourself a chance to really heal up.
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