Laminectomy

Laminectomy

A spinal procedure that completely removes the lamina in order to relieve pressure placed on the spinal cord and/or nearby nerves.

What is Laminectomy?

  • Resolves a variety of spinal conditions that have failed to relieve after attempting conservative treatments.
  • Decompresses pinched spinal nerve roots and/or spinal cord. Completely removes the lamina bone (back of the vertebrae) and/or enlarged tissues narrowing the spinal canal.
  • Procedure is minimally-invasive.

Laminectomy is a procedure that relieves the pressure put on a spinal nerve and/or the spinal cord by spinal stenosis and other spinal conditions. The procedure accesses the affected vertebrae from a small incision on the back and the lamina bone is removed, and if needed, disc tissue as well.

Injuries, trauma, aging, a herniated disc, and wear and tear may cause the spinal canal to narrow, also called spinal stenosis. Bone spurs, calcium deposits, or thickened ligaments are all common problems. The narrowing of the spinal canal may compress spinal nerve roots and/or the spinal cord, causing chronic pain. Removing part or all of the lamina and the tissues and/or bone material may stop the pain.

Some of the symptoms that laminectomy may help lessen or resolve include: chronic or acute back or neck pain that is sharp, dull, throbbing, or radiating, numbness or weakness in the extremities, difficulty walking, sitting, or standing straight, and sciatica.

If another spinal condition such as a herniated or bulging disc is present, then the procedure may be doubled with a microdiscectomy or discectomy, which removes some or all of the disc material. Herniated or bulging discs occur when the soft cushioning material of a vertebral disc bulges or seeps out of the tough exterior and compresses nerves.

The procedure is minimally-invasive, and most patients are walking within hours after completion.

What does it treat?

Who are good candidates?

The procedure may treat pain caused by spinal stenosis and other related spinal conditions. Ideal candidates for this procedure may have differentiating symptoms, but some may be similar. Therefore, good candidates for laminectomy should have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Acute or chronic pain in the back or neck that is dull, throbbing, sharp, deep, shooting, or radiating
  • Sciatica pain that radiates from the back down to the buttocks, thighs, calves, feet, and/or toes
  • Pain in the neck that is felt into the shoulders, arms, hands, and/or fingers
  • Weakness, numbing, or tingling in the extremities
  • Trouble standing, difficulty walking, or extreme pain when sitting for long periods of time
  • History of attempting more than one conservative methods of treatment that failed to relieve pain or heal the spinal condition

Additionally, ideal candidates should understand that physical therapy may be necessary as part of the recovery. They are also optimistic towards pain management and improvement.

What is the procedure like?

The procedure will be carried out by the patient's orthopedic spinal surgeon or neurosurgeon and will take about 1 to 2 hours to complete. The patient will be under local or general anesthesia.

The following are the general steps of the laminectomy procedure:

  1. The procedure begins by prepping the area on the back for the incision. After making a small incision, the muscles and tissues of the back are exposed and separated so that the surgeon can operate.
  2. After the spine is exposed, the lamina is removed to decompress the nerve roots. Any tissue or bone calcifications that may be present are also removed.
  3. If a herniated disc is present, then a microdiscectomy or discectomy may also be performed, which part or all of the disc material is cut away.
  4. The facet joints, which are located over the nerve roots, may be trimmed to allow more room. By now, the nerves are now relaxed.
  5. The surgeon will then close the incision with sutures and the procedure ends.