Hemilaminectomy is a type of spine surgery similar — though more invasive — to a laminectomy, which removes part of a vertebra called a lamina. Each vertebra contains two laminae, which are bony segments that form the rear of the vertebral arch and serve as a base for the vertebra. Certain degenerative spine conditions can cause the lamina to become damaged and to pinch a local nerve root in the spinal canal. In order to relieve the pain and symptoms of the pinched nerve, the lamina must be removed.

The purpose of a hemilaminectomy is to remove a portion of the lamina while still maintaining the stability and integrity of the spine. Unlike a conventional laminectomy, which removes both laminae from the vertebra, a hemilaminectomy only removes a small portion of one lamina. This removal of bone creates more space in the spinal canal and is meant to release nerve tissue from pressure.

When to consider a hemilaminectomy

Hemilaminectomy may become an option when neck or back pain associated with a pinched nerve root is not manageable with conservative treatments such as physical therapy, exercise, pain medications or therapeutic massage. If you are suffering from chronic back pain and you have exhausted all conservative treatment options, your doctor may suggest a hemilaminectomy procedure to help treat your condition.

Spinal conditions that may be treated with hemilaminectomy include:

Alternatives to a hemilaminectomy

Hemilaminectomy is sometimes confused with laminotomy, which is one of the minimally invasive, outpatient procedures performed by the experienced surgeons at Laser Spine Institute.

The difference is that a hemilaminectomy involves the removal of much more bone tissue than a laminotomy. A laminotomy procedure is performed through a small incision and involves the removal of a small portion of the lamina near the vertebra. This small removal helps keep the spine intact while still reducing the pressure on the nerve root in the spinal canal.

The minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute require no hospitalization, leave minimal scar tissue, and are an effective alternative to spinal fusion. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our procedures.