Learn the Benefits and Risks of Back Surgeries with Bone Spurs

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When surgery is needed to treat spinal bone spurs, there are multiple procedures that may be selected. A surgeon will choose which procedure will be the most beneficial for a patient, depending on the severity and complications associated with the spinal bone spurs. Although back surgeries with bone spurs are considered to be safe and relatively effective, there are complications and risks involved with each procedure.

Two of the most common procedures used to treat spinal bone spurs are the endoscopic lumbar foraminotomy (ELF) procedure and the laminotomy procedure. These two procedures are only used as treatment options when other treatment methods have not been effective. Typically, when either surgery is performed, no additional treatment or surgeries will be needed.

Endoscopic Lumbar Foraminotomy

Endoscopic lumbar foraminotomy (ELF) is considered to be a minimally invasive procedure used to relieve pain and spinal nerve compression by causing as little intrusion within the body as possible. This endoscopic procedure is performed, with the use of general anesthesia, by inserting small metal tube into the spine through a small incision in the area. The surgeon guides the instrument with the use of a tiny camera or x-ray. The surgeon is then able to remove any bone spurs or overgrowth that may be causing the symptoms. Because the surgery is minimally invasive, it is often conducted on an out-patient basis with a quick recovery rate.

Complications from this procedure are rare, and it is considered to be quite effective. Often, patients experience immediate benefits following the procedure and can quickly resume normal activities. Complications generally occur if the incisions are large, which increases the risk for infection.


A laminotomy procedure is similar to the ELF procedure. It is another minimally invasive procedure that is conducted under general anesthesia and conducted on an out-patient basis, after a couple of hours of monitoring. This procedure involves removing the ligament in the spinal canal to access the compressed nerves. As with the previous procedure, small incisions are made in order to insert a series of tubes that vary in size. This method comes with little risk of damage to the surround muscles. Using a laser, camera, irrigation and suction, the surgeon is able to relieve the pain caused by the spinal bone spurs.

As with the ELF procedure, patients usually experience immediate relief following the procedure, and when the tubes are removed, only a couple of stitches are needed to close the incision sites. Infection is possible at the incision site, as well as possible damage to the surrounding muscles, should they accidentally be cut or torn. Typically, the most serious complication that can occur from this procedure involves a reaction to the anesthesia and spinal nerve damage; however, the occurrence of this complication is rare.


“Endoscopic Lumbar Foraminotomy,” https://www.laser-spine.com/spinehealth/treatments/endoscopic_foraminotomy/

“Endoscopic Foraminotomy,” https://www.advancedspine.com/Information-Center/Endoscopic-Foraminotomy.aspx

“Laminotomy,” https://www.laserspineinstitute.com/spinal_orthopedic_procedures/laminotomy/

“Laminotomy,” https://back-surgery.com/laminotomy-risks/