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A laminectomy is a surgery to remove the lamina. This is the back part of one of the bones (vertebra) of the spine.
Sometimes only part of the lamina is removed. This is called a laminotomy.
This surgery is done to ease pressure on the spinal cord and nerves from herniated discs, bony spurs, and other problems that cause narrowing of the spinal canal. It is done when other methods have not helped ease weakness, numbness, and pain.
It may also be done to gain access to structures in the spinal cord.
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:
The doctor may give:
If the surgery is done with minimally invasive techniques, you will only need a few small incisions. A scope and small instruments will be inserted into these incisions. Some people may have open surgery. A larger cut will be made in the skin over the area in the back.
After the incision(s) is made, tools will be used to remove part or all of the lamina. Nerves may also be moved to ease irritation. The spinal cord and discs between the vertebra will be examined. Other repairs may be made at this time. The incision will be closed with stiches or staples. A bandage will be placed over the area.
1 to 3 hours
Pain and swelling are common in the first few weeks. Medicine and home care can help.
Some people may be able to go home the same day. Others may need to stay longer. It depends on the amount of work that was done. If you have problems, you may need to stay longer.
Right after surgery, the staff may:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection, such as:
It will take about 4 to 6 weeks to fully heal. Physical activity will be limited during this time. You may need to ask for help with daily activities and delay your return to work.
Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Herniated disc. American Association of Neurological Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Herniated-Disc. Accessed August 2, 2021.
Laminectomy. Better Health Channel website. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/laminectomy. Accessed August 2, 2021.
Laminectomy. Johns Hopkins website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/laminectomy. Accessed August 2, 2021.
Laminectomy: surgery for back pain. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/10895-laminectomy-surgery-for-back-pain. Accessed August 2, 2021.
Lumbar disk herniation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/lumbar-disk-herniation. Accessed August 2, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM Last Updated: 8/2/2021