to view an animated version of this procedure.
A laminectomy is a surgery to remove a small portion of a vertebra called the lamina. Vertebrae are the bones of the spine. The lamina is a small tall like portion on the rear of the vertebra.
In some cases, only a portion of the lamina is removed from the vertebra. This procedure is known as laminotomy.
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A laminectomy is usually done to help take pressure off your spinal cord or a nerve running out from your spinal cord. It is also done to gain access to the spinal cord, bones, and discs that are below the lamina.
, bony spurs, or other problems can cause narrowing of the canals that the nerves and spinal cord run through. This can irritate the nerve if it gets too narrow. Often, a laminectomy is done along with a disc removal to help make the canal larger and take pressure off the nerve being irritated.
When the spinal cord or other nerves get irritated, they can cause: WeaknessNumbnessPain in an arm or leg
Physical therapy and medication will be tried first.
The surgery is done when other treatments have not worked. It is most often done to treat symptoms that keep getting worse.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like: InfectionBleedingBlood clots
Damage to nerves, resulting in pain, numbness, tingling, or
paralysisProblems related to anesthesia
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include: Another medical condition, particularly heart or lung problemsObesityIncreased ageSmoking
Your doctor may do the following: Physical exam
Imaging tests used to evaluate the spine and nerves include:
X-rayMRI scanMyelogramCT scan
In the time leading up to your surgery:
If you are overweight, talk to your doctor about how to successfully
. This will decrease the amount of stress on your back.
Talk to you doctor about your medications. You may need to stop certain medications up to a week before your procedure.Arrange for a ride home and for help at home.Eat a light meal the night before. Avoid eating or drinking anything after midnight.
Possible types of anesthesia for this operation include: General anesthesia
—you will be asleep through the procedure
—numbs the area from the chest down to the legs
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. In some cases, open surgery will be done. This involves making a larger cut in the skin over the area in the back.
Once the area is visible, part or all of the lamina will be removed using a drill or other tools. The affected nerves may be moved into a better location to reduce further irritation. The spinal cord and discs between the vertebra will be inspected. If needed, the disc will also be removed to reduce pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
Other issues like bone spurs will be addressed as well.
When the work is complete, the incision will be closed with stitches or staples.
Laparoscopic Removal of Disc Tissue
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Anesthesia will prevent pain during the procedure. You will have pain during recovery. Pain medication will help manage pain.
The length of stay will depend on the amount of work that was done. You may be able to go home the same day or you may need to stay in the hospital for a couple of days.
Recovery at the hospital may include: Walking with assistance the evening after surgery or the next dayA back or neck braceSpecial socks or boots to help prevent blood clots
The type and extent of surgery will determine how long you will be in recovery. Activities that place stress on the back such as bending or lifting will be restricted for a few months. Your return to work will depend on the physical requirements of your job. Staying active with appropriate activity like walking is important to speed recovery. Physical therapy will be recommended to help reagin strength and flexibility.
Medications will help manage pain and swelling pain.
It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor: Signs of infection, including fever and chillsRedness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision sitePersistent nausea and/or vomitingPain that you cannot control with the medications you've been givenCough, shortness of breath, or chest painTrouble urinating or having a bowel movementNew numbness or weakness in the hips, groin, or legsJoint pain, fatigue, stiffness, rash, or other new symptoms
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
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http://www.aans.org/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Herniated%20Disc.aspx. Updated July 2014. Accessed March 24, 2015.
Laminectomy. Encyclopedia of Surgery website. Available at: http://www.surgeryencyclopedia.com/Fi-La/Laminectomy.html. Accessed March 24, 2015.
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http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/chronic_pain/detail_chronic_pain.htm. Updated February 23, 2015. Accessed March 24, 2015.
Last reviewed November 2015 by Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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