What is Hemilaminectomy?
Hemilaminectomy in dogs is a surgical procedure used in dogs to correct slipped or herniated discs in the thoracolumbar spine. The thoracolumbar spine is located in the upper and middle region of the spine. Some cases of thoracolumbar intervertebral disc disease may be treated using conservative methods such as medications and exercise restriction. In fact, these are typically the first line of treatment for acute cases. Hemilaminectomy in dogs is usually recommended for severe and recurring cases. Dwarf dog breeds, including the Dachshund, English bulldog, and Welsh Corgi, have a predisposition for developing intervertebral disc disease.
Hemilaminectomy Procedure in Dogs
- Before surgery, diagnostic imaging will be conducted to visualize the affected disc. This can be achieved through myelogram, MRI, or CT scan.
Blood work will be taken to ensure it is safe for the dog to undergo anesthetization.
- The dog will be anesthetized.
A catheter and breathing tube are placed. Analgesics and anesthesia will be administered throughout surgery.
- The operative area will be shaved, cleaned, and clipped.
- The surgeon will incise the skin and subcutaneous fat tissues.
- A periosteal elevator is used to remove the connective tissue surrounding the bones of the spine.
- The surgeon will use a high-speed burr to remove the lamina, or vertebral bone, and expose the spinal cord.
- A specialized pick will be used to remove the remaining thin layer of bone covering the spinal cord.
- The ruptured disc material will be removed.
- A fat graft will be placed over the exposed portion of the spinal cord prior to incision closure.
- The dog will be hospitalized for up to seven days.
Efficacy of Hemilaminectomy in Dogs
The efficacy of this procedure will depend on the severity and symptoms of the slipped disc, although the prognosis is generally good. It is a decompression surgery, meaning that it relieves compression on the spinal cord. This usually resolves symptoms. For less severe cases, surgery carries an average success rate of 96%. Hemilaminectomy may not be as successful for dogs that do not have any sensation in their toes, or have more than one slipped disc. In these cases, it is more likely that the dog will not respond to conservative treatment. The surgery success rate for severe cases can still be as high as 76%.
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