Potential complications of laminotomy

Complications of a laminotomy include:

  • Bone infection of the vertebra
  • Nerve and blood vessel damage
  • No pain relief or little pain relief following surgery
  • Recurrent symptoms, including back and leg pain
  • Spinal nerve injuries causing weakness, numbness or pain

Reducing your risk of complications

You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following your treatment plan and:

  • Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before surgery and during recovery
  • Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns, such as bleeding, fever, increase in pain, or wound redness, swelling or drainage 
  • Taking your medications exactly as directed 
  • Telling all members of your care team if you have any allergies

How do I prepare for my laminotomy? 

You are an important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before surgery can improve your comfort and outcome.

You can prepare for a laminotomy by:

  • Answering all questions about your medical history and medications you take. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
  • Getting preoperative testing as directed. Testing varies depending on your age, health, and specific procedure. Preoperative testing may include a chest X-ray, EKG (electrocardiogram), blood tests, and other tests as needed.
  • Losing excess weight before the surgery through a healthy diet and exercise plan
  • Not eating or drinking before surgery as directed. Your surgery may be cancelled if you eat or drink too close to the start of surgery because you can choke on stomach contents during anesthesia.
  • Stopping smoking as soon as possible. Even quitting for just a few days can be beneficial and help the healing process.
  • Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed. This may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and blood thinners. 

Questions to ask your doctor

Facing surgery can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during their doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment. Contact your doctor with concerns and questions before surgery and between appointments.

It is also a good idea to bring a list of questions to your appointments. Questions can include:

  • Why do I need a laminotomy? Are there any other options for treating my condition?
  • Which type of laminotomy procedure will I need? 
  • How long will the surgery take? When can I go home?
  • What restrictions will I have after the surgery? When can I return to work and other activities?
  • What kind of assistance will I need at home?
  • What kind of rehabilitation program or physical therapy will I need?
  • What medications will I need before and after the surgery? How do I take my regular medications? 
  • How will you treat my pain?
  • When should I follow up with you?
  • How should I contact you? Ask for numbers to call during and after regular hours.

What can I expect after my laminotomy?

Knowing what to expect can help make your road to recovery after laminotomy as smooth as possible. 

How long will it take to recover?

You will stay in the recovery room after surgery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable. Your care team will likely have you up and walking once you are alert. 

You may have a sore throat if a tube was placed in your windpipe during surgery. This is usually temporary, but tell your care team if you are uncomfortable.

Laminotomy may be an outpatient procedure in which you go home the same day. You may need to stay in the hospital for up to four days if you have both a laminotomy and spinal fusion. 

Recovery after surgery is a gradual process. Recovery time varies depending on the procedure, type of anesthesia, your general health, age, and other factors.  Your doctor will likely recommend a course of physical therapy to help you recover. Full recovery takes several w