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What is a laminectomy?

Relieve pain, and freely move with greater ease, with a transformative spinal surgery: a laminectomy. This surgery is used specifically to treat symptoms caused by stenosis or bone overgrowths, leading to the narrowing of the spinal canal.

This procedure involves removing a portion, or all of, the bony arch (laminae), allowing for access to the spinal canal and alleviation of pressure on the affected nerve root.

Laminectomy surgery is only recommended when a conservative approach such as medications, injections, or physical therapy, has not been successful. Similarly, if you find yourself suffering from muscle weakness, numbness or pain with walking, or severe symptoms like loss of bladder function, then you may be a candidate for surgery. If you believe you may be a candidate for a laminectomy, call our office today to book your consultation at 201-399-3388.

There are different types of decompressive laminectomy procedures to include the following:

  • Lumbar laminectomy: performed on the lower parts of your spine, called the lumbar spine, which has five vertebrae connecting your thoracic spine to your pelvis. Spinal doctors perform this surgery to alleviate pain and halt motor strength weakness in your legs.
  • Thoracic laminectomy: If you have spinal stenosis identified through the middle or upper part of your spine, then a thoracic laminectomy might be recommended.
  • Cervical laminectomy: This procedure is performed on the back of your neck to alleviate symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis.
  • Hemilaminectomy: A portion of the lamina is removed from one side of the back of your spine to facilitate decompression of the spinal cord and nerves.
  • Foraminotomy: Often, accompanying a decompressive laminectomy, our surgeons will widen the openings (foramen) for the exiting nerve roots, using a procedure known as a foraminotomy. A minimally invasive laminectomy and foraminotomy minimizes symptoms linked to nerve compression.
  • Spine stabilization: Laminectomy and fusion are often the most effective surgeries to help with stenosis. A posterior cervical laminectomy and fusion helps decompress and stabilize the nerves and vertebrae within your cervical spine, while the same is true for a posterior lumbar laminectomy and fusion for your lumbar spine.
  • Tumor removal: Dr. Scheid and Dr. Hunt specialize in both benign and malignant tumor resection procedures of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine. Upholding their commitment to minimally invasive techniques, our surgeons carefully and skillfully resect intradural and extradural masses and send them for diagnostic pathology results.

How is a laminectomy performed?

Before undergoing any spinal surgery at NeuroSpine Plus, our surgeons and team of experienced providers fully explain and brief you on the procedure addressing all of your concerns.

Before your surgery, your doctor will provide you with instructions to include but are not limited to:

  • No eating or drinking after midnight
  • Stop taking certain medications such as anti-inflammatories or blood thinners
  • Wash the surgical area with antibacterial soap the night before, and the morning of, your procedure

If you have been considered a candidate for a laminectomy surgery, your surgeon may suggest other measures first such as stopping smoking or maintaining a healthy body weight to promote postoperative healing.

On the day of surgery, you will be given general anesthesia by a trained anesthesiologist. You will be completely asleep before the procedure begins.

  1. A small incision will be made on your back to access the spine. 
  2. The size of the incision will depend on the type of procedure you are undergoing  
  3. A small piece of bone will be removed to access the affected exiting nerve root
  4. Compressive disc, or bone, material will be removed, freeing the nerve root and spinal cord
  5. Accompanying procedures may be performed along with the laminectomy, as stated above, to ensure adequate pain relief and sustainability 
  6. The incision(s) will be closed with multiple layers of dissolvable sutures and covered with a dry, sterile dressing

What to expect following a laminectomy

Your postoperative healing progress will be closely overseen by our team of providers, ensuring a routine recovery. A member of our team will contact you within the first 48 hours of your procedure to monitor your progress. Your initial post operative appointment will be scheduled within two weeks of your surgical date. A member of our team is always available to answer questions or address your concerns during your recovery period.

General postoperative recommendations include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Use of postoperative pain medications as prescribed
  • Over-the-counter Tylenol for pain
  • Do not smoke
  • Do not drink alcohol
  • Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments
  • Do not use NSAIDs until cleared by your surgeon (Advil, Ibuprofen, Motrin, Aleve, etc)
  • Incision care includes washing your incision with gentle antibacterial soap 48 hours after your procedure. No scrubbing, submerging, or soaking the incision(s). No lotions, creams, oils, or ointments atop the incision(s).

When to contact your doctor's office following a laminectomy surgery

If you have concerns during your postoperative period to include, but not limited to the following: 

  • High fever greater than 100.4F
  • Change in urinary or bowel habits
  • Swelling or discoloration of one or both calves
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Lightheadedness
  • Incisional compromise
  • Loss of strength in your arms or legs

If you have a question regarding your initial postoperative period, a member of our team is always available to answer and address your concerns at 201-399-3388.


On average, the recovery period for a laminectomy takes around 2-4 weeks. However, if you undergo manual labor at work, it may take 4-8 weeks to return. A member of our team is always available to answer any questions or address your concerns during your postoperative period.

A minimally invasive laminectomy surgery may be recommended if you have:

  • Debilitating spinal pain
  • Spinal nerve compression
  • Myelopathy
  • Spinal arthritis
  • Radiculopathy
  • Leg weakness
  • Leg pain
  • Sciatica
  • Herniated disc

All surgical procedures have an inherent level of risk associated with them. With the laminectomy procedure performed by our board-certified neurosurgeons, the risks are rare. All risks and benefits associated with undergoing a laminectomy are discussed at length with our board-certified neurosurgeons prior to proceeding with your procedure. 

If you believe you may be a candidate for a laminectomy procedure, call our office today to book your consultation at 201-399-3388.

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