The surgery performed to remove a portion of bone from the posterior aspect of the vertebra (lamina) is known as laminectomy. It is also done in order to remove the bone spurs in the spine. It is minimally invasive, requiring only small skin incisions. Usually, laminectomy is done to treat a condition called spinal stenosis in which the spinal canal becomes narrow and compresses the spinal cord or nerves. Part of the bone and damaged discs are removed during this procedure to provide space for the spinal nerve and cord. The procedure can take pressure off your spinal cord and spinal nerves (nerve roots).
The doctor may suggest laminectomy for you if you have symptoms such as:
- Numbness or pain in one or both legs
- Heaviness or weakness in the legs or buttocks
- Problems while controlling or emptying the bowel or bladder
- Symptoms will be more visible or worsen while you stand or walk
In order to diagnose the problem, the doctor may suggest tests such as MRI or CT. It will help the doctor to confirm if you have spinal stenosis or not. You will have to prepare mentally and physically for the surgery. For that, you may have to omit certain habits that can affect the surgery negatively. Hence, you will have to stop smoking if you are a smoker. You may also have to stop taking/ change some of your regular medicines.
The procedure starts with general anesthesia. After making incisions, the muscles, ligaments and skin are moved to the side. The surgeon will look inside your back by using a microscope. He/she will remove a part or all of the lamina bone on one or both sides of the spine. Small disk fragments, other soft tissues or bone spurs will be removed after that. The surgeon may also do foraminotomy during the surgery, in order to widen the opening where the nerve roots exit from the spine. A spinal fusion may also be done in order to ensure the stability of the spinal column after the surgery. The surgery may take about one to three hours.
After the surgery, the patient is advised to wear protective brace and mobilize with support. Most probably, the patient can leave the hospital on the 2nd day of surgery. He/She will be able to do light physical activities after four weeks.
The surgery can relieve the symptoms to an extent. But, the patient may develop other spine problems in the future.