Lumbar discectomy / laminectomy

A lumber discectomy or laminectomy is an operation to treat lumbar spinal stenosis – when the spinal canal in your lower back becomes narrowed. This may be due to age and natural deterioration, or it could be due to arthritis in the spine or other bone defects. Some people are also born with a narrow spinal canal.

You might notice that after exercise or standing for some time, you have problems walking or pain and weakness in your leg, possibly accompanied by a tingling sensation. Sitting down or bending forward may improve these feelings.

This procedure is performed to remove a herniated portion of the lumbar disc. It is a fairly common spinal procedure that can be performed in an outpatient setting.


Surgery can help you to walk better and provide relief from the leg pain. It will also prevent your condition from worsening. A small number of people notice improvements over time without surgery but most will find their condition deteriorates, and surgery will become necessary. If appropriate for your condition, your consultant may suggest a lumbar microdiscectomy as an alternative, less invasive procedure.

Your operation will last between one and three hours and will use one of a variety of anaesthetic techniques. Your surgeon will make an incision in the centre of your lower back and part your muscles to access your spine, in order to remove bone and ligament. This creates extra room so that the nerves and blood vessels can function properly.

The wound will be closed with either stitches or clips, and a tube or drain may be inserted for a few days to assist healing.


You’ll be encouraged to walk on the day after your operation and will normally return home within two to three days. Do be aware that it can take some time before heavy lifting is possible after back surgery.

Ask your consultant about exercise, though generally resuming normal light exercise aids recovery.

Recovery from spinal surgery varies from patient to patient and symptoms might come back in time, due to wear and tear. Most patients make a good recovery from spinal stenosis operations.


EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Lumbar discectomy / laminectomy Consultants

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