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Discharge Instructions for Lumbar Laminectomies and Discectomies

Peer Reviewed
These discharge instructions are printed with permission from Todd J. Albert, M.D. of the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University. Discharge instructions and recommendations may vary per institution, be sure to ask your doctor. patient doctor color photo

1. Check the incision twice daily for signs/symptoms of infection: Green/yellow discharge. Foul odor. Increase in pain at incision site. Increased redness. Opening of the incision. Flu-like symptoms. Temperature above 101.5 degrees.

2. Your bandages will most likely be removed before you leave the hospital, if not, they should be removed 24 to 36 hours after surgery.

3. You may shower once the bandage is removed. Avoid bathtubs and swimming pools/hot tubs until after your first postoperative visit. If you have sutures or staples they may be removed 2-3 weeks after surgery. This may be done by a visiting nurse, your family doctor or coming into the hospital.

4. No driving is permitted for 2-3 weeks. You may be a passenger for 20-30 minute trips. Reclining in the passenger seat will be most comfortable for you.

5. Limit your sitting to 20-30 minute intervals. You should lie down or walk in between sitting periods. There are no limitations for sitting in a recliner chair.

6. Walk as much as possible - let discomfort be your guide. You may also go up and down stairs as much as you can tolerate. Walking outside (as long as it is nice weather) or walking on a treadmill is permitted (no incline).

7. DO NOT: Lift anything weighing greater than 10-15 lbs. Bend or twist at the waist - always bend your knees.

Updated on: 09/07/12
Christopher P. Silveri, MD
The above "instructions" are general guidelines used to educate patients after certain spinal procedures. Although these specifically relate to the patients at Thomas Jefferson University, they remain useful to our SpineUniverse audience and serve as examples as to what one might expect at other institutions. Please discuss these issues and topics with your treating surgeon as the instructions may vary considerably.
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