Laminectomy Overview

Laminectomy: Overview, Advantages, & Eligibility Criteria

A laminectomy is a sophisticated and effective treatment to remedy the narrowing of the spinal canal. The spinal canal, which travels through the center of our vertebrae, is a crucial channel that houses the spinal cord and spinal nerve roots. The laminae form the arch that makes up the back wall of the spinal canal. Unfortunately, these passageways have a tendency to narrow as we age, resulting in the pinching of these nerves. By removing part or all of the lamina during a laminectomy, your surgeon can release pressure on these structures. In effect, this process relieves the painful symptoms that we associate with nerve compression or “impingement.”

During a laminectomy, your surgeon will make a small incision on the back over the affected vertebrae. The size of the incision will depend upon the number of laminae that your surgeon will operate on during the procedure. Your surgeon will then move muscles and ligaments carefully to the side, providing a clear view of the targeted laminae. Next, your doctor will remove the lamina through the use of specialized instruments and drills, leaving space for the compressed nerves to expand.

After removing the lamina, your surgeon may perform additional procedures to ensure nerve decompression. (Surgeons normally perform these procedures in this order because a laminectomy opens up the backside of the vertebrae. Furthermore, doing so allows your surgeon to access many spaces in the spine simultaneously.) Some of the other procedures that are often combined with a laminectomy include: foraminotomies, discectomies, and spinal fusions (ALIF, PLIF, & TLIF, for example). The specifics of your procedure, however, will depend entirely upon your individual situation and medical needs.

Advantages of a Laminectomy

A  laminectomy with minimally disruptive techniques provides both the surgeon and the patient with multiple advantages for the treatment of nerve compression. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Smaller incisions resulting in less blood loss and less postoperative pain or scarring
  2. Sometimes this operation can be performed as an outpatient procedure, allowing you to return home the same day as surgery
  3. Less damage to nearby tissues, muscles, and ligaments because of advanced entry techniques
  4. Shorter recovery times because of this minimally invasive approach and less tissue destruction

Joel D. Siegal, M.D., specializes in treating the painful narrowing of the spinal canal caused by spinal stenosis. He is well-versed in minimally disruptive techniques. If you are suffering from spinal or foraminal stenosis, you can trust that Dr. Siegal and his experienced team at Key Clinics are here to help you find relief.

Eligibility Requirements for a Laminectomy

If you have been suffering from the painful symptoms of spinal stenosis, a laminectomy may be able to help you. By removing the laminae of the vertebrae, your surgeon can alleviate symptoms such as excruciating localized pain, radiating pain down the legs or arms, and numbness or tingling.
Certain situations that may restrict an individual from receiving a laminectomy, however. If you have an infection of the spine, severe instability in a spinal segment, or if you are diagnosed with a severe medical condition, then a laminectomy may not be the right option for you.

It is always important to have a full assessment and diagnosis performed by a qualified physician and to attempt more conservative treatment options before choosing surgery. If non-invasive treatments such as physical therapy and pain management were not adequate to relieve your pain, then it may be time to evaluate your surgical options. Call us or schedule an appointment online today.