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Laminectomy

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 101.0°F

Vertebrae are the bones that make up the spine. Laminectomy is a surgery that removes the part of the vertebra called the lamina. This takes pressure off nerves in the low back and helps reduce symptoms.

Back view of lower back vertebrae showing lamina completely removed on one vertebra.

Before Your Surgery

Be sure to follow all of your doctors 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.

  • 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 will be given anesthesia.

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

  • During a laminectomy, the lamina (bone that forms the back of the spinal canal) is removed from the affected vertebra. The opening created may be enough to take pressure off the nerve. If needed, your doctor can also remove any bone spurs or disk matter pressing on the nerve. After laminectomy, the opening in the spine is protected by the thick back muscles.

  • 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, healthcare providers will help you get up and moving. You’ll also be shown how to keep your lungs clear.

 

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