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Laminectomy: Procedure, Recovery, Cost, Risk & Complication

What is Laminectomy? Indication What Procedure is followed : Risk & Complication

What is Laminectomy?

Also known as decompression surgery, laminectomy is a surgery that is performed for enlarging the spinal canal. The space is created by removing the back portion of vertebra covering your spinal canal, known as the lamina. It is done for relieving pressure on the nerves or the spinal cord. The pressure is normally caused due to bony overgrowths within your spinal canal, occurring mostly in people suffering from arthritis in the spine. It can lead to numbness, pain and weakness, often radiating down to the arms and the legs.

Laminectomy will be suggested by your doctor when other conservative methods of treatment like physical therapy, medications and injections have failed to treat the condition. It may also be recommended when the symptoms start getting worse drastically.


Your doctor may recommend laminectomy in the following circumstances:

  • When medication and physical therapy have failed to provide you relief from the symptoms
  • If you are suffering from numbness or a muscle weakness that makes it difficult for you to stand or walk
  • In case you are experiencing loss of bladder control or bowel
  • If there is a tumor in the spine
  • In certain cases, laminectomy is also performed as a part of a surgery for the treatment of a herniated disc. A portion of the lamina may have to be removed so that your doctor can get access to the affected disc.

What Procedure is followed :

Pre Procedure

There are certain pre-procedure instructions that you need to follow before undergoing a laminectomy:

  • Inform your doctor about your regular medication, vitamins and supplements. He/ She should also be aware if you are sensitive or allergic to certain medications.
  • Ensure that you inform your surgeon if you are pregnant or you think you may be pregnant during that time
  • Stop smoking a few days prior to the surgery in case you are a smoker
  • Stop taking blood thinning medications temporarily as it may increase the chances of bleeding during the surgery
  • Do not eat or drink anything a few hours prior to the surgery. Your doctor will provide you with the necessary instructions.

During Procedure

You will be administered general anaesthesia for the surgery. Your blood pressure, heart rate and blood oxygen level will be continuously monitored during the whole procedure. The surgeon will first make an incision on the back after cleaning the area with an antiseptic solution. Then the skin, muscles, and ligaments will be moved to the side, enabling the surgeon to get a better view. The parts of the lamina will be then removed from the spine. Along with that, any bone spurs and fragments of small discs will also be removed. The incision is then closed with the help of stitches and covered with sterile bandage.

The surgeon may also be required to perform a spinal fusion during a laminectomy, where two or more bones need to be connected in the back for better stability of the spine.

Post Procedure

You will be shifted to a recovery room after the completion of the surgery. You will be monitored to check for any complications that may arise due to the surgery or anaesthesia. A few medicines may also be prescribed for relieving you from the pain you may experience at the incision site.

The doctor can instruct you move your arms and legs after you regain consciousness. You may have to stay in the hospital for 1-2 days, depending on your condition. Physical therapy will be recommended for improving your flexibility and strength after laminectomy.

Limit your activities that may involve bending, stooping or lifting heavy objects for a few months after undergoing the surgery. You may resume working in a few weeks, depending on the amount of physical activity that your job involves. In case you had a spinal fusion along with laminectomy, the recovery period will be longer. It may even take you 6 months before you can resume your normal activities.

Risk & Complication

Generally, laminectomy is considered to be a safe surgery. However, like every surgical procedure, there may be some risks associated with it. The possible complications of undergoing a laminectomy may include:

  • Bleeding or infection at the surgery site or vertebral bones
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Formation of blood clots in the legs, leading to pulmonary embolism (blockage of one or more arteries of your lungs, caused due to a blood clot)
  • Damage to your spinal nerve
  • Cerebrospinal fluid leak, watery drainage from the nose or the ear, which may cause due to tearing of the dura mater (membrane surrounding the spinal cord)
  • Recurring back pain, especially after spinal fusion

More Info

In most cases, there is a marked improvement in the health condition of a patient after undergoing a laminectomy. However, the benefit can lessen if there is a recurrence of arthritis. Avoid bending, stooping or lifting heavy objects as much as possible. You can shift your groceries, toiletries and other daily requirements to your hip or shoulder level so that you do not have to bend every time you need them. Make sure that you take all the medicines that have been prescribed for faster recovery. Do not miss the follow-up appointments that are scheduled with your doctor. Frequent but short walks on a regular basis can speed up the recovery process. It is advised not to self-drive in the initial 1-2 weeks post-surgery.

The cost of laminectomy would be approximately Rs. 2,60,000 – Rs. 4,00,000.

Popular Questions & Answers

My dad is having lipoma in his spinal cord starting which mean after the head. Is it serious to worry ?please answer immediately.

MD - Homeopathy, BHMS
Homeopath, Vadodara
Hello lybrate-user. The lipoma is not dangerous. But the location of it is troublesome. After it increases in size substantially it can cause pain in the area. You can take homoeopathic treatment for that.

My father full leg jerk and vibrate. He has laminectomy 1 and half month back, also he is having depression with suicidal thoughts. This jerk get faster if he get his mind on leg, but if we indulge him in another activities, this jerk get slower and gradually stops. Can this jerk be associated with parkinson disease?

B.A. Psychology, M.A. Psychology, Ph. D - Psychology
Psychologist, Delhi
Can't say - but definitely it is related to his mental state. Have him occupied with whatever he loves to do . Ask him to ignore the jerk and accept it as any seasonal problem. If he can wear a knee cap for support , it may help him be distracted ...
1 person found this helpful

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MBBS,MS - General Surgery,MCh - Neuro Surgery
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