Lumbar Laminectomy

Lumbar laminectomy is a procedure done to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves. This procedure is done when back pain fails to improve with more conservative treatments. A laminectomy removes a section of the bony covering over the back of the spinal canal.

What to expect

Patients are sedated and given a general anesthesia or spinal anesthesia. Spinal anesthesia is injected in the low back into the space around the spinal cord. This numbs the spine and lower limbs.

This one to three hour surgery is usually done with the patient kneeling face down in a special frame. The frame supports the patient so the abdomen is relaxed and free of pressure. This position lessens blood loss during surgery and gives the surgeon more room to work. The surgeon will make a straight incision over the desired vertebrae and down the lamina, or bony arches of the vertebrae.

The doctor will then remove the ligament joining the vertebrae as well as all or part of the lamina in order to see the nerve root. The surgeon will then pull the nerve root back to the center of the spinal column and remove the disk, or part of the disk. The doctor will close the incision and the patient’s large back muscle will protect the spine or nerve roots.

How to prepare

Patients will be examined prior to surgery to ensure they are healthy enough for the procedure. Smokers should cut down or stop in the days before the surgery. On the day of the surgery patients will be admitted early in the morning. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before. Loose clothing is recommended for ease of dressing after the procedure, and arrangements should be made for a ride home. The doctor will advise the patient of any medications prohibited before the surgery.