Both a Laminectomy and a Laminotomy are spine surgerys that involve removing bone to relieve excess pressure on the spinal nerve(s) in the spine. A laminectomy removes or “trims” the entire lamina (roof) of the vertebrae to create space for the nerves leaving the spine.  A laminotomy is very similar but only partially removes the lamina. Both can be performed on the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical regions of the spinal column.


  • Spinal stenosis: narrowing of spinal canal
  • Oesteoarthrits: facet joints become enlarged
  • Bone spurs, called osteophytes also can form and grow into the spinal canal.


Narrowing of the spinal canal, impingement and  pressure on the nerve roots and spinal cord may result in these symptoms:


  • Back pain
  • Pain that radiates into the hips, buttocks and legs
  • Numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the back and/or lower extremities


  • Neck pain
  • Pain that radiates into the shoulders, arms and/or hands
  • Numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the neck and/or upper extremeties
  • Bowel and/or bladder impairment.

To determine whether your condition requires treatment with a laminectomy or laminotomy, your doctor will examine your back and your medical history, and may order an X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of your spine. Surgery is typically only recommended after non-surgical treatment options, such as medication, rest and physical therapy, fail to relieve symptoms after a reasonable length of time.


The goal of both laminectomy and laminotomy surgery is to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves by removing the part of the lamina that is the source of the pressure and increasing the size of the spinal canal

  • Patient on his or her stomach, sedated under general anesthesia.
  • An incision is made over the vertebral to be treated
  • Gently pull aside soft tissue – skin, fat and muscle – to expose the vertebral bone at the back (posterior) of the spine
  • Cut away all or part of the lamina to relieve the source of compression
  • Remove any other sources of compression; i.e., bone spurs and/or disc material (discectomy).
  • Ease the soft tissues back into place and close the incision.

Laminectomy and laminotomy surgeries also may be performed in conjunction with spinal fusion surgery. This involves placing bone graft or bone graft substitute between two or more affected vertebrae to promote bone growth between the vertebral bodies. The graft material acts as a binding medium, as the body heals, the vertebral bone and graft eventually grow together to join the vertebrae and stabilize the spine.

*please note treatment and recovery will be individualized to meet the individual needs of the patient and may differ from patient to patient*

Content adapted from Medtronic Catalyst patient education

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