Lumbar decompression; Decompressive laminectomy; Spine surgery - laminectomy; Back pain - laminectomy; Stenosis - laminectomy
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 or a herniated (slipped) disk in your spine. The procedure can take pressure off your spinal nerves or spinal cord.
Laminectomy opens up your spinal canal so your spinal nerves have more room. It may be done along with a diskectomy, foraminotomy, or spinal fusion. You will be asleep and feel no pain (general anesthesia).
Laminectomy is often done to treat spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal column). The procedure removes bones and damaged disks, and makes more room for your spinal nerve and column.
You may have the following symptoms:
Symptoms may be more likely, or worse, when you are standing or walking.
You and your health care provider 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 of anesthesia and surgery in general 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.
You will have an x-ray of your spine. You may also have an MRI or CT myelogram before the procedure to confirm that you have spinal stenosis and its exact location. You may also have had spinal injections beforehand to determine the part of the spine that is giving you the symptoms.
Tell your health care provider 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:
Your provider 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 people go home the same day or 1 to 2 days after their surgery. At home, follow instructions on how to care for your wound and back.
You should be able to drive within a week or two and resume light work after 4 weeks, especially if you didn't have a fusion performed.
Laminectomy for spinal stenosis often provides full or some relief from symptoms.
Future spine problems are possible for all people 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.
You could have other future problems if you needed more than one kind of procedure in addition to the laminectomy (diskectomy, foraminotomy, or spinal fusion).
Casper DS, Maslak JP, Pelle D. Posterior cervical decompressions: cervical laminectomy and laminoforaminotomy. In: Steinmetz MP, Berven SH, Benzel EC, eds. Benzel's Spine Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 105.
Derman PB, Rihn J, Albert TJ. Surgical management of lumbar spinal stenosis. In: Garfin SR, Eismont FJ, Bell GR, Fischgrund JS, Bono CM, eds. Rothman-Simeone and Herkowitz's The Spine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 63.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 12/12/2022
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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