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What Can You Expect From A Laminectomy | DeLand Malpractice Lawyer

What Can You Expect From A Laminectomy

Laminectomy, also called decompression, is surgery to remove the lamina — the back part of the vertebra that covers your spinal canal.

Laminectomy enlarges your spinal canal, relieving pressure on the spinal cord or nerves caused by narrowing of the spine or spinal stenosis, according to the Mayo Clinic. Laminectomy may also be performed as part of surgical treatment for a herniated disk.

Laminectomy usually is used when more conservative treatment, such as medication and physical therapy, has failed to relieve symptoms, or when symptoms are severe. In some cases, laminectomy may be performed in conjunction with spinal fusion, a procedure that helps stabilize your spine.


Surgeons usually perform laminectomy using general anesthesia, so you’re unconscious during the procedure. The surgical team monitors your heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen throughout the procedure with a blood pressure cuff on your arm and heart-monitor leads attached to your chest.

The Mayo Clinic describes these steps of the procedure:

  • The surgeon makes an incision in your back over the area of your spine affected by stenosis and moves the back muscles away from your spine as needed.
  • Small instruments are used to remove the lamina covering the areas affected by spinal stenosis.
  • If laminectomy is being performed as part of surgical treatment for a herniated disk, the surgeon also removes the herniated portion of the disk and any pieces that have broken loose (diskectomy).
  • If one of your vertebrae has slipped over another or if you have curvature of the spine, spinal fusion may be necessary to stabilize your spine. During spinal fusion, the surgeon permanently connects two or more of your vertebrae together using bone grafts, and if necessary, metal rods and screws.
  • The surgeon closes the incision using staples or stitches.
  • In some cases, your surgeon may use a laparoscopic technique to perform laminectomy, rather than open surgery performed through one larger incision. In laparoscopic laminectomy, a tiny camera and surgical instruments are inserted through several small incisions, and your surgeon views the operation on a video monitor. Laparoscopic back surgery is complex and requires great skill. It’s not available at all hospitals. You may not be a candidate for laparoscopic laminectomy if you have a herniated disk or spine instability.


After surgery, you’re moved to a recovery room where the health care team watches for complications from the surgery and anesthesia. Your doctor may prescribe medication to relieve pain at the incision site.

You may go home the same day you have surgery, although in some cases a hospital stay of one to three days may be necessary following laminectomy. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy after laminectomy to help you regain your strength.

Limit activities that involve lifting, bending and stooping for three weeks after laminectomy. You may also need to avoid long car rides for at least four to six weeks. Depending on the amount of lifting, walking and sitting your job involves, you likely will be able to return to work within two to six weeks.

If you also had spinal fusion, your recovery time may be longer. In some cases after laminectomy and spinal fusion, it may be eight to 12 weeks before you can return to your normal activities.


Laminectomy reduces symptoms in 60 to 90 percent of people who undergo the procedure due to spinal stenosis. Most have less pain and are better able to walk following laminectomy. You might not notice improvement right away, though. It can take up to six weeks after surgery to start feeling a reduction in your symptoms. If your nerves were badly damaged before surgery, some pain, numbness and other symptoms may not go away.

Because laminectomy doesn’t stop the process that caused spinal stenosis in the first place, symptoms may come back over time. One study found that approximately 19 percent of people who had laminectomy underwent repeat surgery within 10 years of the initial procedure.

For more on medical safety and procedures, see the library of articles by Daytona Beach personal injury lawyer.

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