Laminotomy and laminectomy are two surgeries to relieve pressure
on the spinal cord. They make the opening in the spine (spinal canal) larger.
As you get older or if you have an injury, the opening for the spine gets smaller. This
condition is called stenosis.
During a laminectomy, the doctor removes pieces of the bony covering (the lamina) and other tissues that are squeezing the spinal cord and nerves.
A laminotomy removes less of the bony covering. Both surgeries make the
opening for the spinal cord and nerves larger. This takes pressure off the nerves.
will make a cut (incision) over your spine. The muscles around your spine are pulled to the side so the doctor can work on the bones (vertebra) of the
spine. The doctor can then trim thickened tissue, such as bulging discs. And
he or she can take out some bone to make the opening for the spinal cord or nerves larger.
Sometimes, after the doctor makes the opening larger, he or she will do
another type of surgery called spinal fusion. The doctor will insert a small
piece of bone from another part of the body or from a bone bank. This piece of bone can help the
spine heal. Sometimes small plates and
screws are used to keep the bones in place.
Surgery will last
from 1 to 1½ hours, depending on how much tissue the doctor cuts away. If a
spinal fusion is done at the same time, surgery will last 2 to 4 hours.
Plan for a hospital stay of 1 or 2 days. You will have some pain after
surgery. You will get medicine to treat the pain. Do not be discouraged if you
do not feel better right away.
As soon as the anesthesia wears
off, you can start moving in the hospital. Get up and walk carefully as
soon as you can. This will help your body heal. You may shower on the day after
surgery. You will have help changing the bandages over your stitches after you
You can return to your usual activities after 4 to 6 weeks.
It may take longer for you to do more strenuous exercise. Do not drive until your doctor says it is
okay. If you had a spinal fusion, it needs time to heal. Sudden twisting
movements can slow healing.
If you had a spinal fusion done, you
may need more time to get back to your usual activities. You may need to
wear a brace.
You may feel tired for several weeks after surgery.
You will feel stiff and sore. But you should feel a little better every day.
Daily exercise will help you get back your energy. Try walking. See if you can
walk a little bit farther every day.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go
to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also
a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you
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Current as of:
May 23, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Kenneth J. Koval, MD - Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedic Trauma
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