What is laminectomy?
Laminectomy means surgical removal of the lamina (back of vertebral bone). The lamina is the bone that forms the roof covering the spinal canal, which houses the spinal cord and nerve roots. For various reasons, the spinal canal can become narrowed, and this narrowing can cause pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. This pressure can result in pain (neck and back pain, arm and leg pain), as well as weakness and numbness. Some reasons for the narrowing include wear and tear due to age, trauma, cancer and some infections.
When is laminectomy needed?
A laminectomy may be needed in the case of severe narrowing of the spinal canal which causes pain and dysfunction. For many patients, a laminectomy can open up the canal and give the spinal cord and nerve roots more room, resulting in less pain and dysfunction.
The patient is made comfortable and then put to sleep by the anesthesia team. An incision will be made in the middle of the back. The surgeons will then expose the lamina of the vertebra. The lamina will then be removed with various instruments, often with drilling. The spinal canal will be inspected to make sure there is good room for the spinal cord and spinal roots. The incision will be closed and the patient will recover in the recovery room. Many patients are able to be discharged from the hospital the same day, while others may stay for a day or two in the hospital.