What Is It?

A laminectomy is a spinal surgical procedure which aims at opening up the bony spine to expose and/or decompress the spinal canal. The lamina is a plate of bone on each vertebrae which covers the posterior (back) aspect of the spinal canal. When approaching the spine from the back the laminae cover the canal.

A laminectomy is the removal of part or all of one or more of the lamina of the spine. By removing this part of the vertebral bones the spinal canal is exposed. This allows access to the contents of the spinal canal, the spinal cord and/or spinal nerves. This can be done in any part of the spinal column including the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine.

In some cases, a laminoplasty can be performed in which the lamina and associated soft tissues are not removed completely. They are sometimes hinged up to access and/or decompress the spinal canal or they are secured back into place in their original or an altered position, depending on the requirements of the particular case and pathology.

What Is It Used For?

This procedure is frequently used by spine surgeons when exposure and/or decompression of the spinal canal is required.

Commonly, when there is compression of the contents within the spinal canal, such as in spinal stenosis, this procedure is used to open up and decompress the canal, relieving the stenosis in the area most affected. This can be performed alone or along with other procedures such as foraminotomies and/or a spinal fusion.

Additionally, if a patient has pathology within the spinal canal, such as a tumor of the spinal cord, a laminectomy is often required to provide access to the canal from a posterior approach through the back.

Success rates, potential complications and recovery time all vary considerably depending on the specifics of each case.

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Important Note: This site is not intended to offer medical advice. Every patient is different, and only your personal physician can help to counsel you about what is best for your situation. What we offer is general reference information about various disorders and treatments for your education.

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