Laminectomy Surgery

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A laminectomy is a type of spine surgery in which a neurosurgeon removes part or all of the lamina, or vertebral bone, in the spine to relieve compression on the spinal cord or the nerve roots. A laminectomy is performed only when other medical treatments have proven to be ineffective.

Reasons for a laminectomy

Patients may require laminectomy for a variety of symptoms and medical conditions. These include:

  • Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spinal cord.
  • Lower back pain that can restrict mobility and interfere with normal activity.
  • A herniated disk in the spine that is displaced or damaged because of injury or wear and tear. This may result in pressure on a nerve that causes pain, numbness or weakness in other parts of the body such as the arms or legs.
  • Sciatica, a sharpshooting pain along the sciatic nerve which runs from the buttocks down the back of the leg.
  • Removal of a spinal tumor.

The laminectomy procedure

A laminectomy may be performed while the patient is asleep under general anesthesia, or while the patient is awake under spinal anesthesia. For certain patients, surgeons may be able to perform a minimally invasive laminectomy that involves a smaller incision, reduced blood loss and shorter recovery period.

During the laminectomy, surgeons make an incision over the selected vertebra, spread the back muscles apart, and remove the portion of the lamina that is causing the compression. Surgeons may also remove bone spurs or growths on the spine at the same time. Recovery after laminectomy usually requires a hospital stay of a day or two, followed by rest and limited activity at home.

In this video, orthopaedic surgeon Christopher M. Bono, MD, neurosurgeon Michael W. Groff, MD, and physiatrist Zacharia Isaac, MD, discuss surgical and non-surgical treatment for spine care. The Spine Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital provides personalized, comprehensive care for patients with spinal disorders. Our neurosurgeons and orthopaedic surgeons work with specialists in physical medicine, pain management and imaging to first offer patients innovative non-surgical solutions.

Laminectomy surgery at BWH

Patients requiring a laminectomy or spinal stenosis treatment can receive state-of-the-art care at the Brigham and Women's Comprehensive Spine Center. Our team is devoted to providing patient-focused, world-class medical care for patients experiencing spinal conditions due to back pain, disease or injury

Laminectomy surgery at BWH if needed is performed by neurosurgeons or orthopaedic surgeons who are internationally recognized for their expertise and are all on the faculty at Harvard Medical School.

To make an appointment with a neurosurgeon or orthopaedic surgeon about a laminectomy or other spinal procedure, please call our New Patient Coordinator at 1-800-294-9999, who is available to answer your questions 8:30am-5pm, Monday through Friday.

In addition to spine and neurosurgery procedures, Brigham and Women's Hospital also offers a wide range of treatment across multiple medical specialties, including gastric bypass surgery, cardiology, osteoarthritis treatment, women's health and more. Use our physician directory to search for an expert by specialty, such as a doctor specializing in high risk pregnancy, or to find a doctor near you.

Learn more about Laminectomy and other Spine Treatments at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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