A laminotomy is a minimally invasive, outpatient surgical procedure performed to widen the spinal canal where it has been narrowed by a thickening of the lamina, the thin bony layer that covers and protects the spinal cord. The lamina may thicken due to traumatic injury or degeneration, compressing the spinal nerves and resulting in pain and disability. A hemilaminotomy is a procedure during which the neurosurgeon removes the lamina only on one side of the spinal canal, the side that requires decompression.

Reasons for a Hemilaminotomy

The goal of a hemilaminotomy is to create more space in the spinal canal in order to relieve pressure on nerve tissue and reduce pain. This surgical procedure is performed to treat several conditions, including:

  • Spinal stenosis
  • Herniated disc
  • Pinched nerve
  • Bone spur
  • Osteoarthritis of the spine
  • Enlarged facet joints

The hemilaminotomy procedure may also be performed to remove the ligamentum flavum, a ligament in the spinal canal that sometimes thickens enough to compress the spinal cord.

The Hemilaminotomy Procedure

A hemilaminotomy may performed at any part of the spinal column: cervical, thoracic, sacral, or lumbar. Because on a small portion of the lamina and ligaments on only one side of the spine are removed, the risk of postoperative spinal instability is decreased. This procedure is frequently performed endoscopically, creating a smaller incision, less scarring and a speedier recovery.

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