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Laminectomy & Laminotomy


What is a Laminectomy?

Laminectomy surgery is a procedure that removes the back portion of the vertebra that covers the spinal canal, called the lamina. The surgery, which is also called decompression surgery, is used to create space in the spinal canal to remove pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. Laminotomy is a minimally invasive alternative to laminectomy surgery. During a laminotomy, only the portion of the lamina that is touching the nerve and causing pain is removed as opposed to the entire lamina.

If you’re suffering from chronic back pain, you may feel isolated because you’ve lost your active lifestyle. You are not alone. At Back Pain Centers of America, we are here to help you find the road to recovery that can lead to a pain-free life. Call us today at [sc name=”patient_phone_number_dash”] to find out how our board-certified spine specialists can help you.

How a laminectomy or laminotomy can help you get back your mobility


Laminectomy and laminotomy procedures can help you get back to the activities you enjoy by relieving pain, numbness and other symptoms that can impact your day-to-day life.

Both procedures can usually be performed utilizing a minimally invasive technique that can result in a much faster recovery, smaller incision and less scarring than traditional open surgery.

Conditions and Symptoms Treated

Laminectomy and laminotomy can be used on its own or alongside other spinal procedures to treat several spinal conditions, including:

Along with pain relief, patients may also experience relief from symptoms, such as:

  • Weakness in the extremities
  • Back stiffness
  • Balance problems


You will be provided with preparation instructions specific to your laminectomy or laminotomy. Part of your preparation may include:

  • Stop taking certain medications and supplements. Some medications and supplements can increase the risk of bleeding. You may be asked to stop taking them for a period before your spinal laminectomy or laminotomy.
  • Fast for 6 to 12 hours. You will be asked to fast for 6 to 12 hours before surgery. Not following your fasting instructions may result in the postponement of your surgery.
  • Arrange for a ride home. You will not be able to drive after a laminectomy or laminotomy. Arrange to have someone drop you off and pick you up.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking has been found to slow healing following spinal surgery.


In most cases, a laminectomy or laminotomy can be performed using a minimally invasive technique. The following describes the minimally invasive approach:

Spinal Laminectomy

A thin needle is guided into one side of the spine using x-ray. A tiny incision, usually less than an inch, is made around the needle and then a thin tube is passed through the incision that allows the surgeon to pass a tiny camera for a magnified view of the area being treated. The lamina is then removed along with other damaged spinal tissue, such as herniated discs, using tiny surgical instruments.


A laminotomy is performed using the same steps as a laminectomy (see above), but only a portion of the lamina is removed to help relieve pressure and create space in the spinal column.

Once decompression is achieved, the tiny incision will be closed using approximately 1-2 stitches or surgical tape.


You will be moved to a recovery room and monitored for a few hours following surgery. The length of your stay will depend on your condition and the type of procedure, ranging from 1 to 3 days for minimally invasive surgery.

You will likely experience some discomfort in the first few weeks after a laminectomy or laminotomy, which is usually managed using over-the-counter pain medications. Your surgeon may also recommend physical therapy to help with your recovery. Most patients can return to their full activities after approximately eight weeks, but this will depend on your overall health and the severity of your condition before the surgery.

At Back Pain Centers of America, we have helped more than 30,000 people just like you find the road to recovery and get back to doing the things in life that matter. Our board-certified orthopedists are some of the best in the country, and they will take a personalized approach to your care so that you get the best treatment for your condition and your body. Call us today at [sc name=”patient_phone_number_dash”] and take the first step toward relief. This simple call won’t cost you anything, and it could be the most important call you ever make. Don’t delay relief!

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