Back Pain Home > Spinal Stenosis Surgery

Whether a person needs surgery for their spinal stenosis depends on the effectiveness of non-surgical treatments, the amount of pain, and the person's wishes. The surgeon typically removes, trims, or adjusts diseased parts causing the pressure or loss of alignment. Risks of the surgery include a tear in the membrane covering the spinal cord at the site of the operation, infection, or a blood clot.

Spinal Stenosis Surgery: An Overview

When non-surgical spinal stenosis treatment methods do not work to relieve pain, doctors may recommend surgery. However, surgery might be considered immediately if a patient has numbness or weakness that interferes with walking, impaired bowel or bladder function, or other neurological involvement. Factors that can determine whether a patient needs surgery include:
  • The effectiveness of non-surgical treatments
  • The extent of the patient's pain
  • The patient's preference.

Understanding Laminectomy

The purpose of spinal stenosis surgery is to:
  • Relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves
  • Restore alignment and strength of the spine
  • Maintain alignment and strength of the spine.
The surgery will generally entail removing, trimming, or adjusting diseased parts that are causing the pressure or loss of alignment.
The most common type of surgery for spinal stenosis is called decompressive laminectomy, which is the removal of the lamina (roof) of one or more vertebrae to create more space for the nerves. A surgeon may perform a laminectomy with or without fusing vertebrae or removing part of a disk. Various devices may be used to enhance fusion and strengthen unstable segments of the spine following decompression surgery.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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