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Lumbar Laminectomy

Lumbar laminectomy for spinal stenosis

Lumbar laminectomy for spinal stenosis is a type of decompression surgery that gives squashed spinal nerves in your lower back more space. It removes vertebral bones that are narrowing your spinal column and compressing the spinal nerve roots often due to age-related changes of spinal stenosis.

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of part of your spinal column due to bone or other tissue overgrowth or a herniated disc. 

Lumbar laminectomy with Ramsay Health Care 

Lumbar laminectomy is commonly performed at most of our Ramsay hospitals

We are pleased to work alongside experienced and proficient professional spinal surgeons who regularly carry out lumbar laminectomy to reduce the symptoms of spinal problems such as spinal stenosis. They understand their patients are experiencing chronic pain that is impacting on their quality of life and they aim to help resolve this as quickly as possible. Our skilled and practised physiotherapy team will offer the individual advice and exercise program you need to build your strength and agility postoperatively.

What is a lumbar laminectomy?

Lumbar laminectomy, also called open decompression, is spinal surgery that is performed to remove overgrown vertebral bone, called lamina, from a compressed nerve root so that it has more space and is no longer trapped. 

Sometimes, if you have a herniated disc, the herniated disc material is also removed from under the nerve root to help create the space it needs, known as discectomy. Spinal fusion or back fusion is another type of decompression surgery that may be performed at the same time if your spine needs strengthening or stabilising and, involves joining together two or more vertebrae.

Lumbar laminectomy aims to relieve symptoms of spinal stenosis such as chronic pain, numbness, and muscle weakness in your legs, buttocks, arms and neck.

What does the lumbar laminectomy surgery involve?

Lumbar laminectomy surgery is usually carried out under general anaesthetic. It will take at least an hour, but it may take much longer for more complex cases if other decompression surgeries are performed at the same time.

Your back surgeon will make an incision in your back over the affected area and move your muscles and soft tissues away from your spine. They will then use small instruments to cut away bone that is compressing your nerves. They may also remove a small part or a large portion of several spinal bones, depending on the reason for your laminectomy operation.

A laminectomy may be performed as part of surgical treatment for a herniated disk, when the herniated portion of the disc is removed.

A lumbar fusion may also be carried out at the same time to help stabilise sections of your spine. Spinal fusion involves your surgeon permanently connecting two or more of your vertebrae together using bone grafts and, metal rods and screws as required. This may be done if additional bone is removed to widen the passageway, one of your vertebrae has slipped or if you have scoliosis (a curvature of the spine).

At the end of surgery your incision will is closed using staples or stitches.

What is a lumbar laminectomy used to treat?

Lumbar laminectomy is used to treat:

Spinal stenosis – narrowing of a section of your spinal column that causes impingement of your nerves inside.
Herniated disc – also called a slipped or ruptured disc. The soft inner part of your disc pushes out through a tear in the exterior and presses down and irritates nearby nerves.
Sciatica - pain usually felt in the buttocks and legs that is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve, a nerve that runs from your hips to your feet. 
Degenerative disc disease - natural wear and tear changes in your spinal discs as you age.
Spondylosis – natural spinal degeneration accompanied by pain. Often refers to spinal osteoarthritis where cartilage deteriorates in your spinal joints.
Scoliosis - your spine twists and curves to the side.
Spinal injuries – such as a fracture or the swelling of tissue.

What complications can happen after lumbar laminectomy surgery?

Lumbar laminectomy is a common back surgery that is often successful. However, as with any surgery, lumbar laminectomy carries a risk of complications including:

A blood clot in known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Nerve injury

What is the cost of lumbar laminectomy surgery?

If you decide to pay for your treatment, Ramsay offer an all-inclusive Total Care package, where a single one-off payment at a pre-agreed price, delivering direct access to all the treatment you need for complete reassurance. You can also spread the cost of your treatment with finance options available.

A lumbar laminectomy surgery may be covered by your medical insurance policy. We advise you to check directly with your insurance provider and get written confirmation before commencing treatment. 

Recovering from lumbar laminectomy surgery

After lumbar laminectomy surgery you may go home the same day or you might stay overnight in hospital for up to four days, depending on the surgery.

Physiotherapy is normally recommended after a lumbar laminectomy to improve your strength and flexibility.

Recovery will usually take up to six weeks. You should avoid excessive bending, lifting or twisting for six weeks and, follow your surgeon’s advice.

Patients who also have spinal fusion at the same time will have a longer recovery period of up to six months.

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