Laminectomy & Laminotomy

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What is a Laminectomy or Laminotomy?

Laminectomies and laminotomies are minimally invasive procedures that involve the removal of the lamina—the bony sheath that protects the spinal cord. These procedures are used to decompress spinal nerves that have become painfully pinched by various disorders of the spine, including bulging or herniated discs.

The anatomy of the spinal column is not one to be taken lightly. Being that the spine is a crucial part of our physical structure, movement, bodily control, and everyday functioning, when something goes awry, it usually does not go unnoticed. The spinal cord is just one of the many crucial elements of our spinal anatomy that will quickly let us know when something is not right.

Encased in a canal constructed by the different bony structures of our vertebrae and intervertebral discs, the spinal cord is the principal messenger from our brain to the rest of our body. When something becomes unaligned or damaged in any part of this canal structure, then compression of the spinal cord and/or spinal nerves can occur. This compression can lead to a variety of troubling symptoms, including discomfort, radiating pain in the limbs, weakness in the muscles of the back, a tingling or “pins and needles” sensation, or even loss of sensation or movement. Compression of the spinal cord—if left unattended—can even lead to even more serious symptoms, such as paralysis or the loss of bowel and bladder control.

Conditions that can lead to spinal nerve compression are many and can develop for a variety reasons. One of the most common sources of compression arises from the development of bone spurs due to osteoarthritis or other diseases that promote overgrown bone. Narrowing of the spinal canal, formally termed spinal stenosis, can also result from wear and tear on the spine over time. Degenerative disc disease, which occurs when intervertebral discs break down or even rupture, can lead to intervertebral discs pressing on the spinal cord or nerves. Additionally, any traumatic injury to the spine can cause inflammation, swelling, and damage to bone or disc material that may result in pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.


A laminotomy or laminectomy is a procedure that can provide relief from the symptoms of spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal and its vertebral openings. During this minimally invasive procedure, your surgeon will access the affected vertebrae from the back. The removal of a portion (i.e. a laminotomy) or the entirety (i.e. a laminectomy) of the lamina is the end goal. The lamina is a thin bony structure on the backside of each vertebra, that creates a sheath for the spinal cord. Removing a piece or the entirety of the lamina can create space for the spinal cord to expand, relieving pain-generating compression on the spinal nerves.

Our team at NYC Spine has been treating spinal stenosis for over 20 years and is well-versed in the different decompressive procedures that are available. Dr. Frazier, a leader in the field of spine surgery, will work with you closely to explore a wide range of treatment options to counteract spinal stenosis. If a laminectomy or laminotomy is required, then you can rest assured that Dr. Frazier has mastered these state-of-the art methods and minimally invasive procedures.

Can a Laminectomy or Laminotomy help me?

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What are the Benefits of a Laminectomy or Laminotomy?

Although the term “minimally invasive” is used frequently, the overuse of this term should not diminish the procedure’s obvious advantages. The advances in minimally invasive laminotomies and laminectomies have brought faster relief—along with longer enduring results—to those who need it the most. Some of the benefits of a minimally invasive laminotomy or laminectomy include:

  • Smaller incision sizes: Small incisions mean less blood loss, pain, scarring, and healing time.
  • Less trauma to the body: Minimally invasive laminotomies and laminectomies simply move back muscles out of the way instead of cutting through them.
  • Shorter hospital stays: Most of the time, these procedures can be performed in outpatient facilities, allowing individuals to return home on the same day as their procedure.
  • Faster recovery: Because the incisions are small, and there is less trauma to the body’s tissues, it also takes less time to heal and get back to your everyday life.

Dr. Frazier and his team at NYC Spine are here to answer any questions or concerns you may be having about these procedures. Operating as an ally, Dr. Frazier will work closely with you to ensure that you understand all the surgical options and possibilities that are available for your condition.

How do I know if I need a Laminectomy or Laminotomy?

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Do I Qualify for a Laminectomy or Laminotomy?

If you are suffering from severe or debilitating symptoms related to spinal stenosis in the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine, then a laminotomy or laminectomy may be a suitable treatment option for you. It is important, however, to exhaust all of the more conservative treatment modalities before choosing to undergo surgery. Physical therapy, pain management medications, and nerve block injections are just some of the therapies that should be explored before surgery.

Unfortunately, there are a few situations that may bar an individual from tolerating either of these procedures. Your surgeon may not be able to perform these interventions if you have: severe instability of the spine, allergic reactions to any of the medications or surgical materials used during the procedure, or other serious health problems. Please make certain to have an honest conversation with your physician regarding your medical history and current symptoms before undergoing any surgical procedure.

Dr. Frazier is ready to have that conversation with you. And with over 20 years of redefining relief, he can help guide you through the recovery process. Although Dr. Frazier recommends conservative treatment options before recommending surgery, he is ready to explore surgical treatments with you when other options are insufficient. Contact NYC Spine today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Frazier and his award-winning team of spine experts!

Am I a candidate for a Laminectomy or Laminotomy?

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Dr. Frazier is a Harvard-trained, board certified orthopedic spine surgeon. He’s held an academic appointment at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and New York’s SUNY Downstate. Dr. Frazier is also a respected lecturer, accomplished researcher, published author on spine disorders and treatment, and a consultant for several international spine companies.

After completing his undergraduate education at Brown University, Dr. Frazier attended Harvard Medical School, where he graduated cum laude. He completed a Harvard internship based at the New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston, MA, followed by a Harvard combined residency before becoming chief resident at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Education & Training

  • MD / Cum Laude

    Harvard Medical School

  • Chief Resident

    Mass. General Hospital

  • Lecturer

    Columbia University

  • Spinal Deformity Fellowship

    Doctor’s Hospital (Miami, FL)