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What Is Laminectomy?

A laminectomy is the removal of the lamina (a bony structure creating a roof over the spinal canal) to relieve the pressure on nerve roots or the spinal cord. Because of this reduction of pressure, the procedure is considered a type of decompression surgery.

How Does a Laminectomy Work at NSPC?

If other treatment options for your spine condition have been exhausted, we will take your medical history and perform a physical examination based on your symptoms to see if you are a good candidate for a laminectomy. Medical images, such as x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT scan) of your spine will show if vertebral displacement is present.

During a laminectomy, the patient is under anesthesia. An expert board-certified neurosurgeon makes a small incision over the affected vertebra and carefully retracts the muscles to reveal the spine. The spinous process, the bony protrusion from the back of the spine, is removed and then the lamina of the impinging vertebrae. If there are any bony growths of the foramina (spaces where nerve roots pass through) infringing on the nerves, these too may be removed. Most patients stay one to three days in the hospital before going home to finish their recovery.

What Does Laminectomy Treat?

A laminectomy may be used to surgically treat a number of back conditions:

  • Lumbar spinal stenosis When tissue is narrowing the spinal canal and putting pressure on the nerve root causing spinal stenosis, removing the cause of the pressure can sometimes bring relief.
  • Herniated discs If the laminectomy is being performed in conjunction with herniated disc treatment, the damaged disc would also be removed.
  • Sciatica Often as a result of another coexisting condition, sciatica may be alleviated when the contributing condition is repaired.
  • Osteoarthritis Thickened ligaments of the spinal column may put pressure on the spinal cord.

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