Related Items


Laminotomy is a surgery that removes a small amount of bone from the spine. This takes pressure off nerves in the low back, which reduces symptoms. These surgeries are not cure-alls, but they are especially good at reducing leg pain. Laminotomy can be a very useful spinal procedure, and many times there is no fusion or instrumentation needed to achieve good results.

Back view of lumbar spine showing part of two vertebrae removed.
Part of the lamina is removed from the vertebra above and below the pinched nerve.

Before your surgery

You will most likely arrive at the hospital on the morning of the surgery. Be sure to follow all of your doctor’s instructions on preparing for surgery:

  • Follow any directions you are given for not eating or drinking before surgery.

  • If you take a daily medicine, ask if you should still take it the morning of surgery.

  • If you take any blood-thinning medicine, such as aspirin, clopidogrel, or warfarin, you should discuss them in great detail with your doctor at least a week in advance. 

  • At the hospital, your temperature, pulse, breathing, and blood pressure will be checked.

  • An IV (intravenous) line will be started to provide fluids and medicines needed during surgery.

During your surgery

  • Once in the operating room, you’ll be given anesthesia.

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

  • During a laminotomy, part of the lamina (bone that forms the back of the spinal canal) is removed from the vertebra above and below the pinched nerve. The small opening created is sometimes enough to take pressure off the nerve. But in most cases, disk matter or a bone spur that is pressing on the nerve is also removed.

  • 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 or discharged from the hospital. The nurses will give you medicines 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.

When to call your healthcare provider

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 100.4°F (38°C), or as advised

  • Swelling, warmth, or pain in your calf

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing

© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Powered by Krames Patient Education - A Product of StayWell