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A laminectomy is surgery to take out the bony arches (lamina) of one or more of the vertebrae in your spine. This surgery can help to relieve pressure on your spinal cord or nerves.


Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • General anesthesia is medicine to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may get anesthesia through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.

During your surgery:

  • You will lie face down. Your surgeon will make an incision in the middle of your back or neck over the area where the lamina will be removed. He will move the skin and muscles of your back to get to your spine. Part or all of your lamina will be removed. If needed, your surgeon will remove any other tissue that is putting pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. This may include a herniated disk or tumor.
  • Your surgeon may fuse (connect) your vertebrae together with bone grafts, artificial materials, or metal plates, rods and screws. This will prevent movement between the vertebrae. Your surgeon will move the muscles back into place. 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. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. When your healthcare provider sees that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room.

  • Call for a healthcare provider the first time you get up. The healthcare provider will show you how to get up and how to turn in bed. Do not twist your body when you get up. If you ever feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away. Then call the healthcare provider. Tell healthcare providers if you feel tingling, or lose feeling in your hands, feet, or another part of your body.
  • Deep breathing and coughing will decrease your risk for a lung infection. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Let the air out, and then cough strongly. Deep breaths help open your airway. You may be given an incentive spirometer to help you take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your mouth and take a slow, deep breath. Then let the air out and cough. Repeat these steps 10 times every hour.
  • You will be able to eat and drink gradually after surgery. You will begin with ice chips or clear liquids such as water, broth, juice, and clear soft drinks. If your stomach does not become upset, you may then eat soft foods, such as ice cream and applesauce. Once you can eat soft foods easily, you may slowly begin to eat solid foods.
  • You may need to wear pressure stockings or inflatable boots after surgery. The stockings are tight and put pressure on your legs. The boots have an air pump that tightens and loosens different areas of the boots. Both of these improve blood flow and help prevent clots.
  • Medicines:
    • Patient controlled analgesia is also called PCA. healthcare providers may connect a machine to your IV that can put pain medicine into your IV. You may be taught how to give yourself the pain medicine by pushing a button whenever you feel pain. It is set up so you cannot give yourself too much medicine.
    • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.


  • Even after surgery, you may continue to have symptoms or your symptoms may return. 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. The dura (tough tissue covering the spinal cord) may be torn during surgery, causing a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak. CSF surrounds and cushions your brain and spinal cord.
  • You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. If your vertebrae were not fused during surgery, your spine may become unstable (weak). You may need another surgery to correct any problems caused by this surgery. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This may become life-threatening.


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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Laminectomy (Inpatient Care)

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