Laminotomy is the removal of a small portion of the lamina and ligaments, usually on one side of the spinal column. The lamina is a bone on the back of the spine. It protects the spinal canal. Removing part of the lamina creates more space for the spinal cord and nerves to move freely.
A surgeon will perform a laminotomy, a type of decompression spine surgery, to relieve narrowing of the spinal canal — also called stenosis. This can cause chronic pain, numbness, and muscle weakness in arms and legs. With laminotomy, the surgeon removes only a portion of the lamina. However, in a laminectomy, the surgeon removes the entire lamina. By removing only a small portion of the lamina, the natural support of the lamina remains.
FAQs About Laminotomy
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Conditions We Treat
What conditions are laminotomy surgery used to treat?
Laminotomy surgery can be performed to relieve pain and other symptoms caused by a variety of conditions, including:
- Spinal stenosis
- Herniated disc
- Bulging disc
- Arthritis of the spine
- Degenerative disc disease
How is laminotomy surgery performed?
At Neurosurgery One, we can offer many patients the option of minimally invasive laminotomy surgery. In a minimally invasive laminotomy procedure, one of our expert Denver spine surgeons will make small incisions to access the damaged or degenerated area. The surgeon then creates a small opening in the lamina above and below the spinal nerve to relieve the pressure.
Depending on your particular condition, a laminotomy may be performed together with other procedures, including:
- Foraminotomy. Like laminectomy and laminotomy, a foraminotomy is a decompression procedure used to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves.
- Discectomy. This common herniated disc decompression surgery involves the removing of part or all of the damaged intervertebral disc.
- Spine fusion. Fusion with supporting spinal implants may be performed to assure stability in the spine.
For those who are candidates, minimally invasive laminotomy spine surgery provides benefits, including:
- Smaller incision
- Shorter surgical time
- Less blood loss
- Less muscle damage
- Reduced risk of infection
- Less post-surgical pain
- Faster recovery
Who is a candidate for laminotomy?
Spine surgery generally is only considered when a diagnosis of a structural issue is confirmed through an imaging study, such as an MRI, and more conservative therapies such as steroid injections and physical therapy fail to provide adequate symptom relief.
You may be a candidate for laminotomy surgery if you have:
- Significant pain, weakness, or numbness in a leg or foot
- Leg pain that is worse than back pain
- Pain that has not improved with physical therapy or medication
- Difficulty walking or standing
What are the benefits of laminotomy?
Decompressive laminotomy surgery has been shown to relieve pain and difficulty walking in the majority of patients. Laminotomy surgery relieves back pain in 72 percent of patients who undergo the procedure. For patients experiencing leg pain, the success rate is even higher: 86 percent. And laminotomy improves walking ability in 88 percent of patients.
What are the risks of laminotomy?
All surgical procedures carry some risk, including a very small risk of:
- Blood clots
- Nerve damage
What is the recovery process after a laminotomy?
Every patient’s experience is unique. However, you may expect some or all of the following after your spine surgery:
- If yours is a is a minimally invasive procedure, you may be able to go home the day of surgery or the following day. For open surgery, you may be hospitalized one to three days.
- You may need help with bathing, dressing, and other activities in the first few days after surgery.
- Your spine surgeon will encourage you to gradually return to normal activities, including walking. Walking short distances at first, gradually increasing to one to two miles daily, will help speed your recovery.
- Your surgeon may encourage you to wear a brace for a short time after surgery.
- You should expect to be fully recovered from surgery in four to six weeks.