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Laminotomy

Laminotomy is a surgery that removes a small amount of bone from the spine. This takes pressure off nerves in the low back, which greatly reduces symptoms. These surgeries are not cure-alls, but they are especially good at reducing leg pain.

Back view of lower back vertebrae showing lamina partly removed on two vertebrae.

Before Your Surgery

You will most likely arrive at the hospital on the morning of the surgery. Be sure to follow all of your doctor’s instructions on preparing for surgery:

  • You should stop eating or drinking 10 hours before surgery.

  • If you take a daily medication, ask if you should still take it the morning of surgery. If you take any blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin, you should discuss them in great detail with your doctor at least a week in advance. 

  • At the hospital, your temperature, pulse, breathing, and blood pressure will be checked.

  • An IV (intravenous) line may be started to provide fluids and medications needed during surgery.

During Your Surgery:

  • Once in the operating room, you’ll be given anesthesia.

  • After you are asleep, an incision is made near the center of your low back. Your incision may be 2 to 6 inches long, depending on how many vertebrae are involved.

  • During a laminotomy, part of the lamina (bone that forms the back of the spinal canal) is removed from the vertebra above and below the pinched nerve. The small opening created is sometimes enough to take pressure off the nerve. But in most cases, disk matter or a bone spur that is pressing on the nerve is also removed.

  • Once the nerve is free of pressure, the incision is closed with stitches or surgical staples.

After Your Surgery

After surgery, you’ll be sent to the PACU (postanesthesia care unit). When you are fully awake, you’ll be moved to your room. The nurses will give you medications to ease your pain. You may have a catheter (small tube) in your bladder. Soon, health care providers will help you get up and moving. You’ll also be shown how to keep your lungs clear.

 

When to Call Your Doctor

Once at home, call your doctor if you have any of the symptoms below:

  • Unusual redness, heat, or drainage at the incision site

  • Increasing pain, numbness, or weakness in your leg

  • Fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 degrees Celsius)

 

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