A spinal lamina is a bony structure that helps provide a tiny roof for the spinal canal and protect the back of the spinal cord.
Each spinal vertebra has two laminae. Each pair of laminae is connected to a spinal vertebral body by two pedicles. Pedicles are small bones that protrude from the oval-shaped vertebral body. Connected to the pedicles are two articular processes, two laminae, and then the spinous process. Together, these elements create a spinal canal through which the spinal cord can pass:
- An oval-shaped vertebral body (on the front side, or stomach side, of the spinal column)
- Two transverse processes and two pedicles which extend off the left and right of the vertebral body
- Two articular processes
- Two laminae
- The spinous process (the bony projection that you can feel when you run your hand along your spinal column)
The spinal canal provides a space for:
- The spinal cord
- Three layers of protective tissue called spinal meninges
- Epidural space
- Blood vessels
- Nerve roots that branch off the spinal cord and serve the rest of the body with sensation and movement
Sometimes, the spinal column can deteriorate due to age or injury. When this happens, the spinal canal can narrow and place pressure on sensitive nerve roots and the spinal cord, resulting in pain and other uncomfortable symptoms. The narrowing of the spinal column is a condition known as spinal stenosis. Factors that can contribute to spinal stenosis include:
- Spinal arthritis
- Bulging discs
- Ruptured discs
- Degenerative disc disease
- Bone spurs
In an attempt to open up space in the spinal column, surgeons may recommend a laminectomy, which is the removal of the lamina on one or more vertebrae. The removal of the lamina is designed to relieve pressure on nerve roots and the spinal cord, as well as help surgeons gain better access to other spinal damage such as a herniated disc. It is important to remember, however, that a laminectomy can mean an invasive, open-back surgery involving hospitalization, a long incision, removal of surrounding tissues, and a long recovery time.
Thankfully, you may have an alternative. Laser Spine Institute (LSI) offers minimally invasive, endoscopic procedures – including a laminotomy – to relieve pressure on spinal nerves. Unlike a laminectomy, a laminotomy is the removal of only a small portion of the lamina, causing the impingement on the nerve. Performed on an outpatient basis, the laminotomy procedures at LSI are achieved through a small incision and involve as little disruption to the lamina and other tissue as possible to relieve your symptoms.
If you want more information about our outpatient procedures, contact LSI today. We will review your MRI or CT scan, free of charge.