Laminectomy and Laminotomy

Laminotomy and laminectomy are surgeries to remove part or most of a spinal bone called the lamina. The lamina is the back part of each vertebra (spinal bone) and covers the spinal canal, the area around the spinal cord. Both procedures reduce pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves to relieve pain.

The procedures

In a laminotomy, your doctor makes a hole in the lamina and removes a small piece of the bone. In a laminectomy, your doctor removes most of the bone. Doctors at the OHSU Spine Center favor laminotomy over laminectomy whenever possible because it requires  a smaller incision and is less damaging to muscles around the bone.

The procedures allow your doctor to see irritated spinal nerves. The doctor can remove anything pressing on spinal nerves that’s causing arm or leg pain, such as bone spurs, herniated discs, tumors or overgrown ligaments. The procedures also may ease back or neck pain. They won’t eliminate pain caused by arthritis or wear and tear on spinal joints, however.

Both procedures can be done anywhere on the spine. More than one vertebrae may be treated. The risk of complications is low. Patients typically spend one or two days in the hospital afterward.

Conditions these treat

  • Laminotomy may be recommended to treat spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal.
  • Laminectomy may be recommended to treat a herniated disc.

Spine surgery guide

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Our guide will help you plan for your surgery, post-surgery rehabilitation and recovery.

Download the Spine Surgery Guide