Are You a Candidate for a Laminotomy or Laminectomy?

By The Spine Center

Pain in your arm, leg, or back is often caused by a compressed or pinched spinal nerve. When other therapies have failed you, the spine experts at The Spine Center at the Bone and Joint Clinic of Baton Rouge in Baton Rouge, Walker, and Prairieville, Louisiana may recommend laminotomy or laminectomy to relieve that pain. 

Both of these minimally invasive surgeries alleviate pain by taking the pressure off irritated, inflamed spinal nerves and the spinal cord. Here, our experts discuss the differences between the two procedures and how they can benefit you.

What are the laminae?

Laminotomy and laminectomy are surgeries that remove part or all of the affected vertebral section, called the lamina. The lamina has two parts, each of which acts as one “eave” of the “roof” that protects your spinal cord.

Most sciatica and other types of pain that radiate to your arms or legs caused by a slipped or ruptured vertebral disc that presses against a spinal nerve. Your doctor may recommend laminotomy or laminectomy if a nerve is being pressed against the lamina, causing irritation, inflammation, and pain, or if you have arthritis in your spine that’s irritating your nerves. A laminotomy or laminectomy may also allow your doctor better access to the slipped or herniated disc, so they can repair it.

However, slipped discs aren’t the only reason to consider a laminotomy or laminectomy. Other indications include:

  • Bone spurs 
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Sciatica
  • Spondylosis
  • Lumbar radiculopathy

No matter what condition you have, however, the primary goal of a laminotomy or laminectomy is to alleviate nerve compression.

What is a laminotomy?

A laminotomy is the simpler procedure. Your spinal surgeon only removes the portion of the lamina that’s pressing on the inflamed nerve. When the pressure’s relieved, the nerve can heal. They may also need to remove other tissues, such as bone fragments or parts of a degenerated disc.

What is a laminectomy?

In a laminectomy, your surgeon removes the entire lamina “eave” that’s pressing on the nerve. Again, they may need to remove other tissues and debris, including bone spurs, bone fragments, and disc fragments.

You don’t have to decide between laminotomy or laminectomy. Your spine specialist recommends the procedure that’s right for you depending on the degree of nerve compression and the condition of the affected vertebra.

Recovering from laminotomy or laminectomy

Your surgeon performs the laminotomy or laminectomy in a hospital while you’re under general anesthesia, and both surgeries only take 1-2 hours.

However, depending on your needs, your specialist may recommend other procedures at the same time, such as spinal fusion, to fully alleviate your pain. You can return home within several hours after your operation.

You need a few weeks to recover from your procedure, so you’ll be asked to limit activities during that time. Your doctor gives you complete after-care instructions so you know what to do to speed your recovery. If your pain was primarily caused by an irritated nerve, you should experience a reduction or complete relief of pain.

To find out if your pain would benefit from laminotomy or laminectomy, call us at 833-774-6327 or book an appointment online at the location nearest you.