Laminectomy and Spinal Stenosis: Success Rates

Laminectomy and Spinal Stenosis: Success Rates

The success rate of a lumbar laminectomy to alleviate pain from spinal stenosis is generally favorable.

Following a laminectomy, approximately 70% to 80% of patients will have significant improvement in their function (ability to perform normal daily activities) and a markedly reduced level of pain and discomfort associated with spinal stenosis .

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Lumbar Laminectomy for Leg Pain and Back Pain Relief

The surgical results of a lumbar laminectomy are particularly effective for leg pain (sciatica) caused by spinal stenosis, which can be severe. Unfortunately laminectomy surgery is not nearly as reliable for relief of lower back pain.

This is because lumbar stenosis is often created by the facet joints becoming arthritic, and much of the low back pain is from the arthritis.

Although removing the lamina and part of the facet joint can create more room for the nerve roots, it does not eliminate the arthritis. Unfortunately, the symptoms may recur after several years as the degenerative process that originally produced the spinal stenosis continues.

Success Rate of Lumbar Laminectomy with Joint Fusion

In certain instances the success rate of a decompression for spinal stenosis can be enhanced by also fusing a joint. Fusing the joint prevents the spinal stenosis from recurring and can help eliminate pain from an unstable segment.

Spinal fusion surgery is especially useful if there is a degenerative spondylolisthesis associated with the stenosis.

Generally speaking, if there is multi-level stenosis from a congenitally shallow canal, a fusion is not necessary; however, if the stenosis is at one level from an unstable joint (e.g. degenerative spondylolisthesis), then a decompression surgery with a fusion is a more reliable procedure.

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Article written by: Peter F. Ullrich, Jr., MD