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Decompression Spine Surgery: Laminectomy

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Decompression Spine Surgery: Laminectomy

  • Dr. Charla Fischer
  • Jun 15, 2021

The purpose of laminectomy is to create space in your spine by removing the back portion of a vertebra covering your spinal canal. This cover is called the lamina. This procedure makes your spinal canal bigger, thereby reducing pressure on your spinal cord or nerves that may be causing pain and other symptoms.

Why would I need laminectomy?
When conservative treatments like medication, injections, and physical therapy are not sufficient, a spine surgeon such as spine surgeon Dr. Charla Fischer in New York City may recommend laminectomy. Bony overgrowths called bone spurs sometimes grow inside the spinal canal, especially in patients diagnosed with arthritis. These overgrowths are also a normal part of aging in some people. Bone spurs narrow the space and may create pressure on your spinal cord and nerves, leading to pain, numbness, or muscle weakness. These symptoms may occur only in the back or they may radiate down the arms or legs. Another reason some people undergo a laminectomy procedure is removal of a portion of lamina is required to gain access to other elements of the spine, such as during treatment of a herniated disc.

What is the procedure?
Laminectomy is performed under general anesthesia in a hospital setting. A skilled spine surgeon like Dr. Fischer will make an incision above the targeted area of your spine and gain access by moving muscles as needed. Sometimes laminectomy is done using minimally invasive techniques, allowing for smaller incisions and less tissue damage. The surgeon will remove the affected lamina and other tissue like a herniated part of a disc, if involved. In cases where a vertebra has slipped over another one or if the spine is curved, spinal fusion may be advised. Finding an experienced surgeon who you trust is imperative when it comes to spine surgery.

Are there risks?
Laminectomy carries possible complications just like any type of surgery. These may include infection, nerve damage, bleeding, blood clots or spinal fluid leakage. However, these complications are not common.

What is recovery like?
It depends on your specific case whether you go home the same day as surgery or after a short stay in the hospital. Once you begin recovery, you may be referred to a physical therapist to benefit your strength and flexibility. Dr. Fischer will help you determine according to your job requirements how long until you can return to work and normal activities. It may be only a few weeks, or longer if you have had a more extensive procedure like spinal fusion.

Is laminectomy successful?
Most patients who undergo laminectomy experience significant improvement in their symptoms. This is especially the case for patients who have pain that travels down their arms or legs. The procedure is not always successful in reducing severe back pain itself, but accompanying symptoms usually benefit from laminectomy. Dr. Fischer has experience with this technique and can provide input as to whether or not it’s a good choice for you.  Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.


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