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Laminectomy

When more conservative measures do not work to relieve symptoms caused by spinal stenosis, Dr. Baig may recommend a form of spinal decompression surgery called a laminectomy. During a laminectomy, the lamina (back portion of the vertebra) is surgically removed, creating more space in the spinal canal.

When is it time for a laminectomy?

Most laminectomies are performed to treat spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal. As we age, osteoarthritis can develop in the spine, resulting in bone spurs (osteophytes). Eventually these bony protrusions may compress nerves in the spinal canal resulting in pain and other neurological symptoms that radiate into the extremities. This occurs most commonly in the lumbar (lower) spine.

For many people, spinal stenosis can be successfully managed without surgery. However, in severe cases, Dr. Baig may feel that a laminectomy is the best treatment option.

A laminectomy may be indicated when:

  • physical therapy, medication, chiropractic adjustments and epidural injections are no longer enough to manage spinal stenosis symptoms
  • muscle numbness and/or weakness in the legs stops you from being able to stand or walk
  • nerve compression in the spine begins to affect bowel or bladder function
  • surgery for a herniated disc requires the lamina to be removed as well
Dr. Baig will only perform laminectomy surgery if he is certain it will help relieve your symptoms and restore your quality of life.

What happens during a laminectomy?

You will be placed under general anesthesia for the procedure. Dr. Baig will make an incision in your back over the appropriate vertebra. Muscles are moved aside to access the vertebra, and the lamina is surgically removed. Dr. Baig is skilled in both traditional laminectomy and minimally invasive laminectomy. If disc damage is contributing to your symptoms, Dr. Baig may perform a discectomy at the same time.

What happens after a laminectomy?

Some healthy patients go home a few hours after laminectomy surgery. If you have other health conditions, a short hospital stay may be required. Most people can return to work or normal daily activities within a few weeks. Dr. Baig will likely recommend physical therapy as a follow up to your surgery.

Most people report significant improvement of pain radiating into the arms or legs after laminectomy surgery. Symptoms can return, however, if osteoarthritis continues to cause degeneration in other areas of the spine.