Lumbar decompression is used to treat symptoms of spinal claudication or sciatica due to narrowing of the lumbar spinal canal causing nerve compression. The procedure entails a full anaesthetic, a small incision and a few days in hospital.
The first step of surgery is to use a mobile X-ray machine to find the correct spinal level and then make a short incision in the back. Magnifying operating loupes are used to give a clear view of the involved nerves and gently remove the bone and thickened ligaments that are compressing them. Care is taken to make sure that there is no bleeding and the wound is sutured. Local anaesthetic is injected into the wound during closure to help with pain relief. This process usually takes about one hour.
Afterwards there is generally some back pain and pain relieving medications are used. Walking is encouraged the next day. People often go home a few days after surgery.