Lumbar Laminectomy Animation

To address your back pain, you may have been told you need a lumbar laminectomy. What is this type of spine surgery?  What conditions is it used for?  What can you expect during the procedure.  Our short animation will help answer your questions, but remember:  the best source for infomration about your particular pain and treatment options is your doctor.  Ask him/her all the questions you need to in order to understand.

A Short Spinal Anatomy Lesson
To get the full picture of what will be done in a lumbar laminectomy, it's helpful to know some details about spinal anatomy.

The lamina is a bony part of the spine.  It's part of the spinal canal (the spinal cord passes through there), and it's often called the "roof" of your spine.  The lamina is on the posterior side (the back side) of your spine.

In the image, you can see the lamina labelled (as well as other part of the spine).  That is what needs to be removed in a lumbar laminectomy.

Lumbar VertebraeThe lamina is labelled in this illustration of lumbar spine vertebrae. It's part of the spinal canal, and it's often called the "roof" of the spine.Why Is a Lumbar Laminectomy Done?
If you have back pain (and/or leg pain) caused by compression of the spinal nerves and/or spinal cord, you may need a lumbar laminectomy.  It is done to relieve that pressure.

Your nerves or spinal cord may be compressed by a herniated disc; it can push into the spinal canal or onto the spinal nerves. 

Bone spurs are another cause of nerve compression. They are called osteophytes in medical-speak, and the are overgrowths of bone that can develop through normal wear and tear on the spine.  They can, unfortunately, press on spinal nerves or the spinal cord and cause pain.


How a Lumbar Laminectomy Is Performed
You will be face down on the operating table, and the surgeon will make a small incision over the surgical area.

After retracting the muscles and fatty tissues, the spine will be exposed and your surgeon will start to carefully remove the lamina.  With the lamina gone, the surgeon can remove any portions of a herniated disc that are causing your pain.  He or she will also be able to address any bone spurs you may have causing nerve compression.

During a lumbar laminectomy, your surgeon is careful to avoid damaging the nerves or the spinal cord.

You should read this SpineUniverse article about lumbar laminectomy written by a spine surgeon.  You should also discuss the procedure and any risks with your doctor.

Updated on: 02/17/17