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

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).

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 any surgery 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 may have an MRI or CT myelogram before the procedure to confirm that you have spinal stenosis.

Tell your doctor or nurse 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 doctor or nurse 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 patients go home 1 - 3 days after their surgery.

Outlook (Prognosis)

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

Future spine problems are possible for all patients 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. If you needed more than one kind of procedure in addition to laminectomy (such as laminotomy, foraminotomy, and spinal fusion), you could have future problems as well.

References

Curlee PM. Other disorders of the spine. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2007:chap 41.

Weinstein JN, Tosteson TD, Lurie JD, et al. Surgical versus nonoperative treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis four-year results of the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial. Spine. 2010;35(14):1329-38.