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

What is Laminotomy?

  • Alleviates pressure on spinal nerves and/or the spinal cord compressed by irregular formations in the spinal canal.
  • The lamina bone (back of the vertebrae), which covers the spinal canal, is partially removed to decompress the narrowed spinal canal. Sometimes laminotomy is paired with a discectomy or microdiscectomy, which partially or totally removes a herniated or bulging vertebral disc.
  • Procedure is minimally-invasive.

Laminotomy is a spinal procedure that decompresses the pressure put on a spinal nerve and/or the spinal cord by symptoms from various spinal conditions. The procedure partially removes the lamina bone and any enlarged tissues or abnormal formations narrowing the spinal canal. The lamina bone is referred as the back covering of the spinal canal, and once removed, should decompress the spinal nerves and/or spinal cord.

There are various spinal conditions that may cause a patient to have a narrowed spinal canal. Injuries, sudden trauma, aging, wear and tear, and tumors may all cause spinal stenosis, or a narrowed spinal canal. Other spinal conditions, like degenerative disc disease or spondylosis may cause abnormal structures that may narrow the spinal canal. Such structures may include bone spurs, calcium deposits, and thickened ligaments.

Many patients feel acute or chronic pain when a spinal nerve and/or the spinal cord are compressed from spinal stenosis or other spinal conditions. Common symptoms that laminotomy may help relieve include: acute or chronic neck or back pain that is dull, sharp, throbbing, deep, shooting, or radiating in to the extremities, weakness or numbness in the extremities, difficulty standing straight, walking, or sitting, and sciatica.

What does it treat?

  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Herniated or bulging discs
  • Spondylosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Degenerative Disc Disease

Who are good candidates?

Ideal candidates for laminotomy may have different spinal conditions, but many most will experience narrowing of their spinal canal. Candidates should experience on or more of the following symptoms:

  • Acute or chronic pain in the neck or back that is dull, sharp, throbbing, deep, shooting, or radiating to the extremities
  • Sciatica pain that radiates from the back down to the buttocks, legs, calves, feet, and/or toes
  • Pain in the neck that radiates into the shoulders, arms, hands, and/or fingers
  • Weakness, numbness, or a tingling sensation felt in the extremities
  • Limited motor functions
  • Difficulty standing straight, walking, or sitting
  • History of attempting conservative methods of treatment that have been unsuccessful in significantly relieving pain

Ideal candidates should also understand the physical therapy that may be part of their recovery and are optimistic towards pain improvement and management.

What is the procedure like?

Laminotomy will be performed by the patient's surgeon, and takes about 1 to 2 hours to complete, depending on complexity. The patient will be under local or general anesthesia.

The following are the general steps of the laminotomy procedure:

  1. The laminotomy begins by prepping the area for the incision. After making the small one to three inch incision, the muscles and tissues are exposed and carefully separated so the surgeon can operate.
  2. After the area of the spine is exposed, the lamina is partially removed to decompress the nerve roots and/or the spinal cord. Any abnormal structures present may now be removed.
  3. If a herniated or bulging disc is present, a microdiscectomy or discectomy may also be performed, which part or most of the disc material is cut away.
  4. The nerves should now be relaxed.
  5. The surgeon with close the incision with sutures and the procedure ends.