What to Expect During a Laminectomy (Without Fusion)

This procedure relieves pressure on the nerve roots in the spine. It is most commonly performed to relieve the pain of stenosis. This is a narrowing of the spinal canal that is often caused by the formation of bony growths that can press against the nerve roots. The surgeon may treat one or more vertebrae. 

It may be performed to relieve pain in the lower back (lumbar spine) or pain in the neck (cervical spine). Some laminectomies include spinal fusion, usually when the area being treated is in the cervical spine.

1. Preparation 

To begin, the patient is put to sleep. First, the surgeon creates a small incision to access the spine. 

2. Removing the Spinous Process 

The spinous processes are the bony protrusions that stick out from the rear of the spine. The surgeon carefully removes the spinous process from the vertebra or vertebrae that need treatment.

3. Removing the Lamina

Next, the surgeon removes the lamina. This is the part of each vertebra that forms the rear portion of the spinal canal. Removing the lamina opens up the spinal canal, creating more space for the nerves. The surgeon may need to remove the lamina from more than one vertebra to fully relieve the pressure.

4. Clearing Bony Growths & Other Problems 

The surgeon may also need to treat the foramina. These are the openings on each side of the vertebrae where the nerve roots exit the spine. The surgeon inspects these openings and clears away any bony growths (bone spurs) that could press against the nerves. If you have herniated discs or any other problems pressing against your nerves, the surgeon fixes these, too

5. Closure & Recovery

When the procedure is complete, the incision is closed with sutures or surgical staples. The patient is monitored in a recovery room.  Your surgeon will tell you when it’s safe to leave the hospital. Follow your surgeon’s instructions as you recover. Physical therapy may be recommended as the spine heals.

What to Expect During a Laminectomy with Fusion

Sometimes when a laminectomy is performed on the cervical spine, the surgeon will also fuse the spine with implants that lock the vertebrae together before ending the procedure. Recovery from a laminectomy of the cervical spine with fusion may require the patient to wear a neck brace to limit movement.

Dr. Nael Shanti of Cary Orthopaedics Spine Center is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in minimally invasive spine surgery. Dr. Shanti has expertise in a number of minimally invasive spinal procedures including laminectomies. If you think you might be a candidate for one of these procedures, call (919) 297-0000 to make an appointment with Dr. Shanti.