Laminectomy reduces pressure on the spinal nerves by making the spinal canal larger. In this operation, the lamina–the bony back portion of the spine that covers the spinal canal–is removed at the site of nerve irritation. The surgeon can then remove any bone spurs from around the nerves, reducing irritation and inflammation they have caused. It may be necessary to remove part of the facet joints or part of the discs as well.
A laminectomy, typically performed to combat spinal stenosis (the narrowing of the spinal canal) is frequently performed on patients over the age of 65 who suffer from chronic back pain. At this age, most back pain is due to degenerative changes that occur in the intervertebral discs of the spine and the joints between each pair of vertebrae. In some cases, degenerative changes in the spine can cause painful pressure on the nerves that send signals through the spinal canal.
Patients typically get up and begin moving a few hours after surgery. Most patients return home as soon as their medical condition stabilizes, usually within one to two days after surgery.