Lumbar spinal stenosis is typically the result of wear and tear in your lower back. Any resulting symptoms, such as tingling and/or numbness in your buttocks, may be alleviated through a lumbar laminectomy surgery.
Watch: Lumbar Laminectomy Surgery Video
Our video walk-through can help you visualize how lumbar laminectomy surgery addresses the anatomical problems caused by spinal stenosis
Before we look at how a lumbar laminectomy procedure is performed, let's quickly look at how lumbar spinal stenosis can lead to problems.
Degenerative changes in your lower spinal column may lead to the enlargement of the facet joints in the back of your spine.
As pictured above, these enlarged facet joints behind the spine can place pressure on the nerves exiting your spine; which can result in painful symptoms.
The role of the lamina
Additionally, each individual verterbra has 2 small, flat bones called lamina (shown above in purple). The lamina act as a protective covering for the nerves in the back of your spine.
More specifically, the lamina protect nerve roots (called the cauda equina) that branch off the spinal cord and extend throughout the lower spine. A lumbar laminectomy surgery removes all or part of the lamina, as well as all or part of a facet joint(s), to give the affected nerve roots more space to heal.
A lumbar laminectomy will begin with a 2 to 5 inch incision in the midline of your lower back.
Watch: Lumbar Spine Anatomy Video
Your back muscles, called the erector spinae (shown above in purple), will then be dissected from the lamina.
Your surgeon will next remove the lamina, or a portion of the lamina, and expose your nerve roots (shown above in white).
Your surgeon may trim or undercut your facet joints to provide more room for your nerve roots. After a sufficient amount of bone is removed to reduce pressure on your nerves, the erector spinae will be sewn back together.
A lumbar laminectomy is particularly effective for leg pain caused by spinal stenosis. Unfortunately, laminectomy surgery is not as reliable in regards to providing relief from lower back pain.
Additionally, decompression of the nerve root will often relieve leg pain immediately, but numbness, tingling, and/or weakness could take up to a year to subside (as the nerve continues to heal).
Following surgery, patients will typically spend 1 to 3 days in the hospital. How long your individual stay lasts is dependent in part on your overall health prior to surgery. You should also avoid excessive bending, lifting, or twisting for 6 weeks after your surgery to avoid pulling on the suture line before it heals.