Lumbar Laminectomy

njspine_rieger_patient

A laminectomy procedure is done to create space in your spine by removing the lamina, located on the back of a vertebra covering your spinal cord.  This enlarges your spinal canal to relieve pressure on your spinal cord or nerves.  Bone spurs typically occur on people suffering from degenerative arthritis, which can be a normal part of the aging process.  This procedure is generally only done once nonsurgical approaches are no longer effective.

The pressure caused by compressive bone spurs leads to pain, weakness, or numbness that may radiate down your arms and legs.

Your doctor may recommend you for a laminectomy procedure if:

  • Nonsurgical treatments have been ineffective
  • You are experiencing muscle weakness or numbness that makes standing or walking difficult
  • You are experiencing a loss of bowel or bladder control

During your procedure, you will be placed under general anesthesia.  A surgical team will monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels.

First, your surgeon will make an incision in your back and move the muscle away from the spine to remove the lamina.  Incision length will vary depending on how many vertebrae are affected.  As this is considered a minimally invasive surgery, your incision is not likely to be very large.

If you also have a herniated disc, your surgeon will remove the damaged portion of the disc and any pieces that may have broken loose.

Should one of your vertebrae slip over another, or if you have a curvature of your spine, a fusion procedure may be necessary to provide stabilization.  A surgeon will use rods and screws to connect two or more of your vertebrae together.

After your procedure, you may be able to go home the same day, though some patients do require a short hospital stay.  You will likely be recommended to attend physical therapy to aid strength and flexibility.  Depending on your job, you may be able to return to work within a few weeks.  In the case of a fusion procedure, your recovery will likely be longer.