The spine is surrounded and protected by vertebral bones stacked one on top of the other. Adjacent vertebrae articulate with each other at small joints called facet joints, which are present in pairs at the back of each vertebra. Facet joints may sometimes compress or irritate spinal nerves that pass adjacent to them. In the lower back or lumbar region, this can result in back pain as well as pain, weakness and numbness in the legs. A lumbar facetectomy is a surgical procedure to decompress the spinal nerves by removing the facet joint. It is usually recommended for severe cases of nerve compression.
For the procedure you will lie face down and the site of surgery is identified by X-ray imaging. An incision is made in the skin, and tissues separated and retracted to expose the affected area. Special cutting instruments are used to remove the offending facet joint. A microscope is used to verify whether decompression of the spinal nerves is complete. Lumbar facetectomy usually leaves the treated vertebrae unstable, so it is combined with a fusion procedure. This involves fusing and stabilizing the vertebrae with bone graft, screws and plates. The incision is then closed.
Following lumbar facetectomy, you may require 1-2 days of stay at the hospital. Your doctor will prescribe medication to keep you comfortable. You will receive advice on wound care, recovery and activity limitation.
As with any invasive procedure, lumbar facetectomy may be associated with certain complications such as infection, bleeding, nerve damage and leakage of spinal fluid.
Other Surgical Procedures List
- Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion
- Artificial Cervical Disc Replacement
- Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery
- Balloon Kyphoplasty Procedure
- Invasive Percutaneous Spine Surgery
- Lumbar Discectomy Surgery
- Lumbar Endoscopic Discectomy Surgery
- Lumbar Foraminotomy Surgery
- Lumbar Spinal Fusion Surgery
- Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant Surgery