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Alternative NamesLumbar decompression; Decompressive laminectomy; Spine surgery - laminectomy
Definition Return to top
Laminectomy is surgery to remove the lamina, two small bones that make up a vertebra, or bone spurs in your back. The procedure can take pressure off your spinal nerves or spinal column.
Description Return to top
Laminectomy opens up your spinal canal so your spinal nerves have more room. It is usually done along with a diskectomy, foraminotomy, and spinal fusion. You will be asleep and feel no pain (general anesthesia).
Why the Procedure is Performed Return to top
Laminectomy is often done to treat spinal stenosis. The procedure removes bones and damaged disks, and makes more room for your spinal nerve and column.
Your symptoms may be:
You and your doctor 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.
You will have an MRI before surgery that shows you have spinal stenosis.
Risks Return to top
Risks for any surgery are:
Risks for 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.
Before the Procedure Return to top
Always tell your doctor or nurse what drugs you are taking, even drugs or herbs you bought without a prescription.
During the days before the surgery:
On the day of the surgery:
After the Procedure Return to top
Your doctor or nurse will ask you to get up and walk around as soon as your anesthesia wears off, if you did not also have spinal fusion. Most patients go home 1 to 3 days after their surgery.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Laminectomy for spinal stenosis will often provide full or partial relief of symptoms
Future spine problems are possible for all patients after spine surgery. If you had spinal fusion and laminectomy, the spinal column above and below the fusion are more likely to have problems in the future. If you needed more than one kind of back surgery (such as laminectomy and spinal fusion), you may have more of a chance of future problems
References Return to top
Curlee PM. Other disorders of the spine. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 41.
Weinstein JN, Tosteson TD, Lurie JD, et al. Surgical versus nonsurgical therapy for lumbar spinal stenosis. N Engl J Med. 2008;358:794-810.Update Date: 3/4/2009 Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.