This procedure is performed through an incision on the lower back. The surgeon removes a section of bone, called the lamina, from one or more vertebrae. This relieves pressure on the nerve roots caused by stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal).
A laminectomy is a surgical procedure designed to relieve the nerve pressure and pain caused by spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on the nerves and causes pain throughout the spine and extremities. It can develop as a result of bone spurs or just from aging. In this procedure, a small section of bone that covers the back of the spinal cord, called the lamina, is removed to relieve the compression. It is most commonly performed on the vertebrae in either the neck or the lower back.
The cervical spine (neck region) is one of the most important and agile parts of your body. It begins at the base of the skull and consists of 7 bones separated by intervertebral discs that allow the spine to move freely. The neck has the greatest amount of movement of any area of the spine and is also responsible for protecting the spinal cord and supporting the skull. Because of its vital function in our everyday lives, injury or disease of the cervical spine is a very serious condition.
A laminectomy of the cervical spine is performed through the back of the spine under general anesthesia. Part or all of the lamina bones may be removed on both sides of the spine, along with the spinous process, which are sharp projections from the back of the vertebrae. The removal of the lamina and any bone spurs or disk fragments relieves the pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves.
If one of the vertebrae has moved over another or if there is curvature of the spine, spinal fusion may be needed for stability along with the laminectomy. The remaining spine bones can be connected by fusing vertebrae together using bone grafts or titanium metal rods with screws attached to bones on each side. The procedure can also be done without fusion.
As symptoms of spinal stenosis worsen over time or more conservative treatments such as medication and physical therapy have failed to help, a laminectomy may become necessary. It can provide relief from typical symptoms such as pain, numbness or weakness in one or both legs and bowel or bladder control problems.
After a laminectomy, you will most likely need to begin a regimen of physical therapy to build up your core strength and flexibility. You will be restricted from those activities that require bending and lifting for several weeks after the procedure. Generally, most people can return to work in two to six weeks after surgery.
However, if your laminectomy was accompanied by spinal fusion, recovery time may be longer. Sometimes it takes several months after this combination of surgeries to be cleared for a normal resumption of activities.