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This procedure is performed to relieve pressure on the nerve roots in the lower back.

An x-ray will be taken during surgery and used to confirm the correct level of surgery.


A cut is made down the middle of the back, over the site where the nerves are compressed.

The muscles are stripped from the bones at the back of the spine. The bones on the back of the spine (spinous process and laminae) are removed from the spine.

Further bone and ligament is removed until the pressure is relieved from the nerves of the spine.

A small plastic tube (drain) may be inserted to allow any residual fluid/blood to be drained away. This will be removed within 24 – 48 hours.

The cut is closed with reabsorbable sutures.


This procedure will require a General Anaesthetic.

You will be adviced to fast at least 6 hours before surgery.

All blood thinners will need to be stopped for a safe period before surgery (if you have not been adviced please do ask the office for instructions.

Many essential drugs may need to be taken as per routine. Anaesthetist should advice regarding this. If they do not please contact them

Risks of Lumbar laminectomy

There are some risks/complications with this procedure/treatment/investigation.

Common risks include:

  • Infection. This may need antibiotics and further treatment.
  • Minor pain, bruising and/or infection from IV cannula site. This may require treatment with antibiotics.
  • Bleeding. A return to the operating room for further surgery may be required if bleeding occurs. Bleeding is more common if you have been taking blood thinning drugs such as Warfarin, Aspirin, Clopidogrel (Plavix or Iscover) or Dipyridamole (Persantin or Asasantin).
  • Small areas of the lung may collapse, increasing the risk of chest infection. This may need antibiotics and physiotherapy.
  • Increase risk in obese people of wound infection, chest infection, heart and lung complications, and thrombosis.

Uncommon risks include:

  • A heart attack because of the strain on the heart.
  • Stroke or stroke like complications can occur which can cause weakness in the face, arms and legs. This could be temporary or permanent.
  • Clots in the leg (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) with pain and swelling. Rarely part of this clot may break off and go into the lungs.
  • Nerve root injury. This may be temporary or permanent.
  • Injury to the covering of the spinal cord/nerve. This may require further surgery.
  • Ongoing persistent back and leg pain, with possible leg numbness due to nerve damage from compressed nerve roots.
  • Leakage of cerebrospinal fluid. This may need further surgery or a lumbar drain insertion.
  • Visual disturbance. This may be temporary or permanent.

Rare risks include:

  • Paraplegia. This may require further surgery. This may be temporary or permanent.
  • Instability of lumbar spine. This may need further surgery and fusion.
  • Death is very rare due to this procedure.


  • royal-australasian-college-of-surgeons
  • flinders-medical-centre
  • cmc-vellore
  • calvary-adelaide-hospital
  • Neurosurgical Research Foundation