What are laminectomies?

Laminectomies are surgeries that attempt to increase space in the spinal canal. These types of procedures involve the surgical resection of the lamina, the vertebral arch that forms the roof of the spinal canal.

A laminectomy is commonly performed to address pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots as a result of injury, the formation of spinal tumours, disc herniation and tightening of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis). Primarily, doctors perform laminectomies to treat disabling neck and lower back pain.

Dr Bomela performs a laminectomy to create space (decompress) for the spinal cord and nerves as well as to prevent degenerative arthritis when non-operative treatments do not help with pain or the condition worsens.

How do you perform a laminectomy?

Made over the targeted vertebrae, and the muscles are retracted on either side. Afterwards, Dr Bomela removes the front of the lamina to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves. She may also surgically extract additional material, increasing pressure on the spine, such as bone spurs or damaged disc portions. By removing damaged disc material or osteophytes, Dr Bomela is performing decompression. Decompression surgery aims to free the spinal canal from debris and create enough room for the spinal cord.

A laminectomy can be performed on different sections of the spine-the cervical, thoracic or lumbar region, depending on where the bony growths or herniated discs and restricting ligaments are found.

Spinal fusion complements a laminectomy because it stabilises the spine further. As a result, surgery strengthens the weakened part of the spine. Two or several more vertebrae are fused to increase the spine’s stability. In some cases, patients opt for an implant instead of a complete fusion of the bones. 


1. What do I need to do after a laminectomy?

After surgery, it is important to keep the surgical site clean and dry. During a follow-up consultation with Dr Bomela, you will have the stitches or staples, depending on what was used, removed.

2. How long do you think it will take for me to recover from a laminectomy?

Usually, you can return to light housework within a few weeks after surgery. However, spinal fusion combined with a laminectomy will take much longer to recover.

3. Is there a specific position to sleep in after a laminectomy?

Dr Bomela encourages her patients to sleep on their backs or sides after surgery.