Laminectomy

Definition

Laminectomy is surgery to remove the lamina. This is part of the bone that makes up a vertebra in the spine. Laminectomy may also be done to remove bone spurs in your spine. The procedure can take pressure off your spinal nerves or spinal cord.

Alternative Names

Lumbar decompression; Decompressive laminectomy; Spine surgery - laminectomy; Back pain - laminectomy; Stenosis - laminectomy

Description

Laminectomy opens up your spinal canal so your spinal nerves have more room. It may be done along with a diskectomy, foraminotomy, and spinal fusion. You will be asleep and feel no pain (general anesthesia).

During surgery:

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Laminectomy is often done to treat spinal stenosis. The procedure removes bones and damaged disks, and makes more room for your spinal nerve and column.

Your symptoms may be:

You and your doctor can decide when you need to have surgery for these symptoms. Spinal stenosis symptoms often become worse over time, but this may happen very slowly.

When your symptoms become more severe and interfere with your daily life or your job, surgery may help.

Risks

Risks of anesthesia and surgery in general are:

Risks of spine surgery are:

If you have spinal fusion, your spinal column above and below the fusion is more likely to give you problems in the future.

Before the Procedure

You will have an x-ray of your spine. You may also have an MRI or CT myelogram before the procedure to confirm that you have spinal stenosis.

Tell your health care provider what medicines you are taking. This includes medicines, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.

During the days before the surgery:

On the day of the surgery:

After the Procedure

Your provider will encourage you to get up and walk around as soon as the anesthesia wears off, if you did not also have spinal fusion.

Most people go home 1 to 3 days after their surgery. At home, follow instructions on how to care for your wound and back.

You should be able to drive within a week or two and resume light work after 4 weeks.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Laminectomy for spinal stenosis often provides full or some relief of symptoms.

Future spine problems are possible for all people after spine surgery. If you had laminectomy and spinal fusion, the spinal column above and below the fusion are more likely to have problems in the future.

You could have other future problems if you needed more than one kind of procedure in addition to the laminectomy (diskectomy, foraminotomy, or spinal fusion).

References

Bell GR. Laminotomy, laminectomy, laminoplasty, and foraminotomy. In: Steinmetz MP, Benzel EC, eds. Benzel's Spine Surgery. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 78.


Review Date: 11/27/2016
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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