Spinal Decompression - Discectomy, Laminectomy or Laminotomy


Spinal decompression creates more space and frees the nerves and spinal cord from impinging disc material, hypertrophied bone and ligaments. On the thoracic and lumbar spine, decompression is usually performed with posterior surgery (from the back of the spine).

Spinal decompression is considered for patients with intolerable back pain and/or leg pain from a prolapsed/herniated disc, degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis. Herniated disc material, bony spurs (osteophytes) or thick ligaments cause pain by exerting pressure on the nerves and spinal cord. Spinal decompression may also be indicated after back injuries (fractures, dislocations) or when space-occupying lesions (tumours, infective mass) narrow the spinal canal. Spinal decompression is the procedure that reduces pressure on the nerves compressed in the lumbar spine. Sciatica develops when a disc in the lumbar region pushes against a nerve. As a result, this increases pressure on the nerve, causing unbearable pain. In the event of this, either one or a combination of the following procedures may be performed:

  • Laminectomy
  • Discectomy
  • Spinal fusion

Depending on what part of the spine is removed to free the compressed neural tissues, spinal decompressions may be called:

  • Laminectomy
  • Laminotomy
  • Foraminotomy
  • Discectomy
  • Or a combination of the above procedures

Spinal Decompression Procedure

Laminectomy is a classic surgery removing the whole lamina — the back part (roof) of the vertebra that engulfs the spinal canal, creating more space in the spinal canal for the nerves. If only a portion of the lamina needs to be removed, it is called a laminotomy. Herniated or bulging discs may also be dissected (this is referred to as a discectomy) to make more room in the spinal canal. Sometimes the foramen (the region where the nerve roots exit the spinal canal) may also need to be enlarged. This procedure is called a foraminotomy. Dr Szabo uses an operating microscope during surgery which allows for ample light and magnification for a complete decompression.



1What are the signs of sciatica?
Pain from sciatica originates from the lower back and travels to the buttock and leg. Then, the pain intensifies in the back, buttock, hip, and lower extremities.
2Is spinal decompression good for spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a debilitative condition that leads to the narrowing of the spinal canal. Dr Szabo removes herniated (bulging) discs that press against the spinal nerves causing pain when decompressing the area.
3Do you perform spinal fusion in conjunction with a laminectomy?
A laminectomy is the surgical dissection of the lamina, including damaged disc tissue. The ends of the vertebrae are fused during the procedure as well.