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TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center
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Laminectomy

A laminectomy is a surgery to remove a small portion of a vertebra. Vertebrae are the bones of the spine. The part removed is called the lamina.

Concerned about back pain? Please call our Joint and Spine Center Navigator at (615) 781-5870 to make an appointment with one of our specialists.

Reasons for a Laminectomy

A laminectomy is usually done to help take pressure off your spinal cord or a nerve running out from your spinal cord. It is also done to gain access to the spinal cord, bones, and discs that are below the lamina. Herniated discs, bony spurs, or other problems can cause narrowing of the canals that the nerves and spinal cord run through. This can irritate the nerve if it gets too narrow. Often, a laminectomy is done along with a disk removal to help make the canal larger and take pressure off the nerve being irritated.

When the spinal cord or other nerves get irritated, they can cause:

  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Pain in an arm or leg

Physical therapy and medication will be tried first.

The surgery is done when other treatments have not worked. It is most often done to treat symptoms that keep getting worse.

What to Expect

If the surgery is done with minimally invasive techniques, you will only need a few small incisions. A scope and small instruments will be inserted into these incisions. The lamina will then be removed using a drill or other tools. After the lamina is removed, the spinal cord and discs that were hidden under the lamina will be inspected.

The disc often needs to be removed as well to take pressure off the spinal cord. If it is not a disc problem, other problems causing the nerve irritation will be fixed. In rare cases, a spinal fusion may be done. A spinal fusion will involve joining two vertebrae. Lastly, the incision will be closed with stitches or staples.

When to Call Your Doctor

It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
  • Peristent nausea and/or vomiting
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medications you've been given
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • Trouble urinating or having a bowel movement
  • New numbness or weakness in the hips, groin, or legs
  • Joint pain, fatigue, stiffness, rash, or other new symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call 911 right away.

Still concerned about back pain? Please call our Joint and Spine Center Navigator at (615) 781-5870 to make an appointment with one of our specialists.