What you can expect

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Surgeons usually perform laminectomy using general anesthesia, so you're unconscious during the procedure. The surgical team monitors your heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen throughout the procedure with a blood pressure cuff on your arm and heart-monitor leads attached to your chest. After you're unconscious:

  • The surgeon makes an incision in your back over the affected vertebrae and moves the muscles away from your spine as needed. Small instruments are used to remove the appropriate lamina.
  • If laminectomy is being performed as part of surgical treatment for a herniated disk, the surgeon also removes the herniated portion of the disk and any pieces that have broken loose (diskectomy).
  • If one of your vertebrae has slipped over another or if you have curvature of the spine, spinal fusion may be necessary to stabilize your spine. During spinal fusion, the surgeon permanently connects two or more of your vertebrae together using bone grafts and, if necessary, metal rods and screws.
  • Depending on your condition and individual needs, the surgeon may use a minimally invasive incision and a special surgical microscope to perform the operation. The incision is closed using staples or stitches.

After laminectomy

After surgery, you're moved to a recovery room where the health care team watches for complications from the surgery and anesthesia. You may also be asked to move your arms and legs. Your doctor may prescribe medication to relieve pain at the incision site.

You might go home the same day as the surgery, although in some cases you may need a short hospital stay. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy after a laminectomy to improve your strength and flexibility.

Limit activities that involve lifting, bending and stooping for several months after laminectomy. Depending on the amount of lifting, walking and sitting your job involves, you may be able to return to work within a few weeks.

If you also had spinal fusion, your recovery time may be longer. In some cases after laminectomy and spinal fusion, it may be six months before you can return to your normal activities.

Jul. 19, 2014