Performed to decompress nerve roots being pinched by bony segments of the spinal processes, a hemilaminectomy removes just one lamina bone on a vertebral column.

What is a Hemilaminectomy?

  • A procedure to relieve pain and other symptoms from an irritated nerve root pinched by bony segments of the spinal processes.
  • During a hemilaminectomy, one lamina bone on a vertebral column is completely removed. This is unlike a laminectomy, which involves removing both of the lamina bones.
  • Only one lamina is removed to preserve as much stability in the spine as possible. The procedure is usually performed on patients with spinal conditions that require surgery for proper treatment, but are not excessively complex.
  • Procedure can be performed in a minimally-invasive way, with a small incision and shorter recovery time.

Hemilaminectomy is a spinal procedural technique that decompresses impinged nerve roots being pinched by the lamina bone and other tissues of the spinal processes. There are various spinal conditions that may cause these bony segments to decrease the vertebral space and compress a nerve. The hemilaminectomy aims to treat the pain from the symptoms of these conditions.

During the procedure, one lamina, which is part of the vertebrae, is removed. The laminae are bony segments located on the back of the spine that act as bases for the projecting spinal processes. There are two laminae on each vertebral column, one on each side. Unlike a laminectomy, which removes a vertebra's set of lamina, only one is removed in a hemilaminectomy. This preserves the spine's stability as much as possible.

Patients who are recommended a hemilaminectomy have a spinal condition that does not relieve of its symptoms through non-surgical ways. Unlike patients who need a laminectomy, these patients do not require a more complex approach to pain relief. Typically, their cases are not as excessive and complicated.

What does it treat?

  • Arthritis of the Spine (Osteoarthritis)
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • A Herniated or Bulging Disc

Who are good candidates?

Ideal candidates for a hemilaminectomy should experience pain and other symptoms for at least 3 to 6 months, and should have attempted various conservative methods of treatment beforehand. Also, patients should have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Chronic back pain of varying strength that may be sharp, dull, throbbing, burning, or shooting
  • Back pain that generally worsens while sitting
  • Limited motor function skills
  • Difficulty performing everyday activities, especially any that require bending or lifting
  • History of trying various conservative methods of treatment that were unsuccessful in alleviating the pain

Moreover, ideal patients should accept any physical therapy that may be part of their recovery and should be positive towards effective pain relief and management.

What is the procedure like?

During a hemilaminectomy, the patient will be under general anesthesia. The procedure takes about 1 hour to complete.

The following are the general steps of the hemilaminectomy:

  • The procedure starts with prepping the area on the patient's back for the incision. After a small 1 to 3 inch incision is created, the muscles and soft tissues of the back are separated to expose the problem lamina.
  • One lamina is removed to relax the pinched nerve roots. Plus, any spinal abnormalities like bone spurs are removed.
  • If the procedure will be combined with a microdiscectomy or discectomy, which partially or completely removes a herniated or bulging disc, this procedure will now be performed.
  • The procedure ends once the surgeon closes the incisions with sutures.