Spinal Laminectomy

What is a spinal laminectomy?

The spine comprises 33 individual vertebrae, forming a natural tunnel shape, with the spinal cord and nerves protected at the centre. Normal wear-and-tear, an injury, or a genetic spinal disease may cause this natural column to shrink – resulting in a condition known as spinal stenosis

A spinal laminectomy is a type of spinal decompression surgery that treats spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal column. Depending on the affected region of the spine, the stenosis may specifically be lumbar (lower back), cervical (neck), or rarely thoracic (mid-back). Though there can be many causes of spinal stenosis, one of the most common is bone overgrowth or bone spurs related to cervical spondylosis, lumbar spondylosis, or herniated/slipped discs. These spinal conditions increase pressure on the spinal cord and can pinch nerve roots, resulting in pain or numbness.

spinal stenosis
Spinal stenosis occurs when bone spurs or other spine conditions cause compression of the spinal nerves.

How does a spinal laminectomy work?

Depending on your condition, your neurosurgeon will either make large or small incisions on your back above the treatment area. The muscles are moved away to help your neurosurgeon visualise the targeted vertebrae. Next, a small piece at the back of the vertebrae, known as the lamina, is removed. This increases the space of the spinal canal and thus reduces pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.

A spinal laminectomy is usually only recommended when other non-invasive treatments have proven ineffective, or symptoms have become more severe and unbearable.

Benefits of a spinal laminectomy

  • Increased mobility 
  • Regained bowel or bladder control
  • Reduced pain and tingling in arms and legs
  • Reduced back pain
A laminectomy involves removing the back (lamina) of the vertebrae to alleviate pressure on the spinal cord.

What conditions can a spinal laminectomy treat?

A spinal laminectomy can treat the following conditions: 

  • Spine tumours: as spine tumours grow, they can put pressure on the spine and cause significant pain, which may interfere with normal activities. A spinal laminectomy can help relieve this pressure and reduce pain.
  • Lumbar spondylosis: also known as back osteoarthritis, this condition can cause a variety of symptoms such as lower back pain, reduced flexibility, or numbness and tingling in the arms and legs. 
  • Cervical spondylosis: also known as neck osteoarthritis, cervical spondylosis can cause symptoms such as pain, stiffness, reduced range of motion, or difficulty walking or moving.
  • Herniated discs: also known as slipped discs, this condition displays symptoms such as pain that radiates from the back and down the legs, numbness, muscle weakness, and even incontinence. A discectomy is usually performed to remove the herniated parts of the disc.
  • Scoliosis: scoliosis, particularly degenerative scoliosis, may require a combination of spinal laminectomy and spinal fusion to treat severe symptoms.

These symptoms often interfere with the ability to perform normal daily tasks and can negatively impact quality of life. If you have any of the conditions listed above, make an appointment with Chou Neuroscience Clinic for customised treatment.

compressed spinal nerves
Compressed spinal nerves can cause pain, numbness or tingling in the extremities, muscle weakness, or difficulty walking and balancing.

What results can I expect from a spinal laminectomy?

A spinal laminectomy is performed as an in-patient procedure, and you will be required to stay in the hospital for a few days after the procedure. You will be prescribed painkillers to help make your recovery easier. Get plenty of rest and avoid activities that pressure your spine.

You may also be required to undergo physical therapy to aid in your recovery. You will be requested to visit our clinic within a week or two for a follow-up. You will also be asked to visit us for a routine check-up to monitor your general well-being.

Recovery generally takes 4-6 weeks, depending on age, activity level before surgery, and overall health.

You should expect a significant reduction in your symptoms after a spinal laminectomy and be able to return to your normal activities once you have fully recovered.

How many spinal laminectomy sessions are needed? 

For most patients, a single spinal laminectomy session will suffice. However, some patients with severe spinal stenosis or whose initial spinal laminectomy was unsuccessful may require more than one laminectomy procedure. 

For degenerative spinal conditions such as osteoarthritis, bone spurs may continue developing over time and require a subsequent laminectomy to alleviate symptoms.

Frequently asked questions

Is a spinal laminectomy a major surgery?

Yes, a spinal laminectomy is considered a major surgery. It is usually only performed if non-invasive and conservative treatment options have failed.

Can you live a normal life after a laminectomy?

This depends on your overall health and the severity of your condition. For most individuals, healing from a spinal laminectomy takes 4-6 weeks, after which you can continue your daily activities.

What are the possible risks or complications of a laminectomy?

Like all surgeries, a spinal laminectomy comes with some risks or possible complications; these are:
-- Bleeding
-- Adverse reaction to anaesthesia
-- Nerve damage
-- Infection
-- Blood clots
-- Spinal fluid leakage
-- Incontinence
-- Back pain

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Copyright © 2023 Chou Neuroscience Clinic. All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2023 Chou Neuroscience Clinic. All Rights Reserved