What is Lumbosacral Dorsal Laminectomy?

The lumbosacral region refers to the lower back of your dog. A dorsal laminectomy is a surgical procedure performed by your veterinarian to remove a portion of spinal vertebra bone from the dorsal, or back, of the vertebral column. A lumbosacral dorsal laminectomy is a surgical procedure performed in the lower, rear portion of your dog’s spine. This procedure is performed to take pressure off the spinal cord and associated nerves when a damaged intervertebral disc or other vertebral dysfunction is causing bruising or swelling in the vertebral canal, affecting the nerves and spinal cord. Removal of a portion of bone allows for decompression of the spinal cord and access to the disc that is exerting pressure for surgical correction to be achieved. The surgeon can then correct a bulging or ruptured disc by removing tissue that is adversely affecting spinal cord nerves. Careful planning is required to ensure that the condition is not exacerbated by removing vertebral tissue and further collapsing a damaged disc. If required, this procedure is performed under general anesthesia by your veterinarian. 

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Lumbosacral Dorsal Laminectomy Procedure in Dogs

Your veterinarian will perform radiographs as required to ascertain the exact nature of lumbosacral disorder and perform planning for laminectomy and correction of disc disorder to relieve pressure on spinal nerves. Antibiotics and analgesics may be prescribed prior to surgery. Prior to surgery your dog will need to fast from food for 12 hours to prevent aspiration of stomach contents during general anesthesia. When your dog is brought in for surgery, he will be sedated, administered intravenous anesthetic, and intubated, with anesthesia maintained by gas. The dorsal area of the lower spine where incision is to be made is clipped of hair and cleaned antiseptically. The procedure may be performed by open or endoscopic surgery. The top of the vertebra is removed using a specialized surgical drill or an instrument called a rongeur to expose the damaged intervertebral disc and spinal cord. Disc material that is damaged or protruding can then be removed by excision. Fat tissue from below the skin can be used to fill the gap made by removal of vertebral tissue, to protect the bone as it heals and regenerates bone tissue. Incisions are then sutured and repaired and your dog will be put into recovery and assisted as required while recovering from general anesthetic.

Efficacy of Lumbosacral Dorsal Laminectomy in Dogs

This procedure is commonly performed and the procedure is well understood. Results are usually good and recovery is expected. Where incontinence has occurred, prognosis is not as positive. Some recurrence of symptoms can occur, in approximately 20% of cases, but for most dogs laminectomy resolves lumbosacral disease effectively.

Lumbosacral Dorsal Laminectomy Recovery in Dogs

After a lower back, dorsal laminectomy your dog should be confined and put on cage rest. They may be kept in the veterinary hospital for a few days for observation and supportive care prior to release home.

When at home, your dog should continue on restricted movement and cage rest. It is important to ensure that your dog does not jump on furniture or attempt stairs. They should be taken outside on a leash only to go to the bathroom and then returned to confinement, for four to six weeks. Soft bedding will prevent pressure sores during the recovery period. Some dogs have trouble walking during initial recovery and can be assisted with a towel under their stomach to provide support when going outside for toilet breaks.

Your dog will be administered painkillers, and possibly anti-inflammatories, after surgery. Medication should be taken as directed by your veterinarian. 

If necessary, an e-collar may be used to prevent your dog attempting to interfere with the incision, although a surgical wound on the back may not be accessible by your dog. The incision should be regularly inspected for redness and discharge that could indicate infection, and immediate veterinary help sought to address any issues. 

Follow up and suture removal by your veterinarian will be required two weeks following surgery.

Cost of Lumbosacral Dorsal Laminectomy in Dogs

The cost of laminectomy in dogs ranges from $2,000 to $5,000 depending on the cost of living in your area and your dog’s specific requirements.

Dog Lumbosacral Dorsal Laminectomy Considerations

Radiographs conducted prior to laminectomy and preplanning of the procedure will minimize negative effects of tissue removal from discs that could result in a worsening of your dog's condition by compromising disc space and further irritating nerves in the area.

Risks associated with general anesthesia and infection are present, however, careful monitoring during and after the procedure will mitigate these risks.

Your dog will require restricted movement and supportive care during recovery and pet owners should be aware of these requirements.

Lumbosacral Dorsal Laminectomy Prevention in Dogs

Degenerative lumbosacral disease/syndrome is exacerbated by obesity. Ensuring your dog maintains an optimum weight and gets plenty of appropriate exercise will decrease the chances of this disorder occurring, requiring laminectomy. If symptoms of DLS occur, prompt veterinary care will allow for medical intervention that may prevent or delay surgical intervention being necessary.