Laminectomy For Herniated Disc

What you should know

A laminectomy is surgery to take out the bony arches (lamina) of one or more of the bones in your back.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Nerves in the area where the disc is removed could be injured. You may have numbness, pain, or paralysis. You may have problems controlling your bowel or bladder. You may become impotent. This means a man may not be able to have an erection. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This may become life-threatening.

  • Your spine may be unstable (weak) because bone was removed during surgery. You may need to have surgery again to fuse (lock) that part of your spine. The dura (tough tissue covering the spinal cord) may be torn, causing fluid to leak out of the spinal cord. You may need to lie flat in bed for a time, or need more surgery because of this. Problems after surgery may become chronic. Without surgery, your pain and other back problems may get worse. Over time, you may need surgery to repair or remove more discs, and your recovery may take longer.

Getting Ready

The week before your surgery:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.

  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.

  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.

  • You may need blood tests before your surgery. Talk to your caregiver about these or other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location for each test.

The night before your surgery:

  • You may be given medicine to help you sleep.

  • Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your surgery:

  • Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Caregivers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.

  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.

  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.


What will happen:

After you go to sleep from the anesthesia, you will be secured on your stomach or side. An incision will be made over the herniated disc or discs. The herniated disc, or part of the herniated disc, will be removed. The incision will be closed with stitches or staples, and a bandage will be placed over the area.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room.

Contact a caregiver if

  • You cannot make it to your surgery.

  • You have a fever.

  • You get a cold or the flu.

  • You cannot control when you have a bowel movement or urinate.

  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • Your symptoms get worse.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.