What is a laminectomy?

A laminectomy is surgery to remove the lamina, a bone at the back of each vertebra, from the affected area of the spine. This is done to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. At Swedish, we also perform:

  • Laminotomy, a procedure to remove only part of the lamina
  • Foraminotomy, a procedure to remove a bone that puts pressure on a foramen, which is an opening that a nerve root exits from.

How is a laminectomy performed?

A laminectomy can be done through a minimally invasive approach or through open surgery. If the surgery is done with minimally invasive techniques, the incision is typically small. If open surgery is done, the incision may involve a larger cut in the skin to expose the surgical area.

Once the area is visible, part or all of the lamina will be removed using a drill or other tools. The compression around the affected nerves is removed to reduce further irritation. The spinal cord and discs between the vertebrae will be inspected. If needed, part of a disc may be removed to reduce pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. Other conditions such as bone spurs will be addressed as well.

How long is a laminectomy?

On average, a laminectomy takes one to three hours.

How long is the hospital stay after a laminectomy?

It may be possible to go home the same day of the procedure, depending on your particular surgery.

What spine conditions is laminectomy used for?

What are the risks of laminectomy?

Risks are present with any surgical procedure. For patients undergoing a laminectomy, risks can include but are not limited to a lack of relief from symptoms, wound infection, durotomy/cerebrospinal fluid leak, post-operative hematoma, cauda equina syndrome, wrong- level surgery and nerve damage/paralysis.

Interested in learning more about laminectomy?

Schedule a consultation online or call 206-320-BACK (2225).