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 levels throughout the procedure. After you're unconscious and can't feel any pain:
- The surgeon makes an incision in your back over the affected vertebrae and moves the muscles away from your spine as needed. Small instruments are used to remove the appropriate lamina. The size of the incision may vary depending on your condition and body size. Minimally invasive surgeries typically use smaller incisions than those used for open procedures.
- 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.
- Depending on your condition and individual needs, the surgeon may use a smaller (minimally invasive) incision and a special surgical microscope to perform the operation.
After surgery, you're moved to a recovery room where the health care team watches for complications from the surgery and anesthesia. You may also be asked to move your arms and legs. Your doctor may prescribe medication to relieve pain at the incision site.
You might go home the same day as the surgery, although some people may need a short hospital stay. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy after a laminectomy to improve your strength and flexibility.
Depending on the amount of lifting, walking and sitting your job involves, you may be able to return to work within a few weeks. If you also have spinal fusion, your recovery time will be longer.
Most people report measurable improvement in their symptoms after laminectomy, particularly a decrease in pain that radiates down the leg or arm. But this benefit may lessen over time if you have a particularly aggressive form of arthritis. Laminectomy is less likely to improve pain in the back itself.
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