Lumbar Laminectomy

lumbar spine

What is a Lumbar Laminectomy?

Lumbar laminectomy is a surgical procedure performed to alleviate pain from lumbar spinal stenosis. The procedure involves removing the lamina, or the back part of the vertebrae covering spinal canal. This surgery is also known as decompression surgery. By removing the lamina, it creates more space for the spinal canal and decompresses the nerve roots that may be causing conditions such as sciatica. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal due to disease processes such as arthritis or bony overgrowths, as well as degenerative changes that result in enlargement of the facet joints.

Why Is a Lumbar Laminectomy Performed?

A laminectomy is often done to relieve the effects of spinal stenosis. In this condition, your spinal column narrows and puts pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. A laminectomy is performed while you are under anesthesia. You’ll be asleep during the procedure if you have general anesthesia, or you’ll be awake if you have spinal anesthesia. Either way, you will feel no pain during the procedure. Your anesthesiologist will monitor you throughout the surgery.

Who is a Candidate for a Lumbar Laminectomy?

Bony overgrowths within the spinal canal cause a narrowing in the space available around your spinal cord and nerves. This pressure can cause back pain, weakness or numbness that can radiate down your arms or legs. Laminectomy is usually more effective at relieving these types of radiating symptoms than it is at relieving back pain.

Your doctor may recommend laminectomy if:

  • Conservative treatment, such as medication or physical therapy, does not improve your symptoms
  • You have muscle weakness or numbness that makes standing or walking difficult
  • You experience loss of bowel or bladder control

In some cases, laminectomy may be necessary as part of surgery to treat a herniated spinal disc. Your surgeon may need to remove part of the lamina to access the damaged disc.

Post-Surgical Recovery

It is possible that you may go home the same day as your laminectomy. However, a short hospital stay is often needed to make sure your recovery is progressing. Normal daily activities such as lifting, bending, walking and sitting for long periods of time will need to be limited during postoperative recovery. Dr. Harron and the neurosurgical team will prescribe a rehabilitation program that will be customized to your specific needs. Following your post-surgical instructions will speed and optimize your recovery.

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