Laminectomy

Laminectomy is an effective operation used to solve the problem of pain, numbness, and muscle weakness in the legs. Typical diagnoses which lead to laminectomy are spinal stenosis or disc herniation.

Purpose

This is a surgical procedure that is done to take pressure off the spinal nerves. These nerves, located in the lower back, extend down the legs to the feet. If you have pressure on lumbar spinal nerves (lower back) then you probably have some combination of leg symptoms which might include: numbness, tingling, weakness or pain. It is also occasionally described it a “dead” or “stiff” feeling in the legs.

This procedure is unlikely to help with back pain alone. If you have back and leg pain, again, it should help only your leg symptoms. If you get any back pain relief, consider yourself lucky. If you have only back pain and no leg symptoms, this procedure is not indicated.

How it Works

The term laminectomy means to remove (-ectomy) part or all of the lamina. The lamina is the bony covering of the spinal canal where the spinal nerves are located. Believe it or not, you can remove some of the lamina without complications.

You might then ask, “What protects my nerves?” You have all the muscle and skin on the back of the spine that covers everything quite nicely. On average, the depth of skin and muscle thickness in this location is approximately 3-4 inches.

This surgery can be performed through a fairly small skin incision if it involves only one level, however may require longer if multiple levels are involved. Laminectomy is often performed with spinal fusion.