This surgical procedure creates more space for the spinal cord and nerve roots to relieve the painful pressure of spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal that can result from arthritis.
A laminoplasty is a surgical procedure designed to relieve the nerve pressure and pain caused by spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on the nerves and causes pain throughout the spine and extremities. It can develop because of certain genetic abnormalities, disease processes or simply due to natural aging.
In this procedure, a small section of bone that covers the back of the spinal cord, called the lamina, is cut into to relieve the compression. One side of the lamina is cut through completely and the other is cut partially, enabling it to swing open in a similar manner to a door. It is then held open with titanium spacers or bone graft and plates, increasing the amount of room around the spinal cord and decreasing compression on the nerves.
Reasons for a Cervical Laminoplasty
The cervical spine (neck region) is one of the most important and agile parts of your body. It begins at the base of the skull and consists of seven bones separated by intervertebral discs that allow the spine to move freely. The neck has the greatest amount of movement of any area of the spine and is also responsible for protecting the spinal cord and supporting the skull. Because of its vital function in our everyday lives, injury or disease of the cervical spine is a very serious condition.
Generally, the symptoms of spinal stenosis worsen over time, and more conservative treatments such as medication and physical therapy become less effective in treating the condition. When this occurs, a laminoplasty may become necessary. The procedure can provide relief from typical symptoms of spinal stenosis such as back or neck pain and numbness or weakness in one or both arms.
The Cervical Laminoplasty Procedure
A laminoplasty of the cervical spine is performed through the back of the neck under general anesthesia. The surgery will typically last between two and five hours. The approach taken for the cervical laminoplasty may vary slightly depending on the particulars of the patient's condition. If a bone spur is present, for example, the surgeon may enter the body from a different angle.
A laminoplasty is sometimes performed using microsurgery, which is less invasive than traditional methods but which requires both specialized training and specialized operating equipment. A laminoplasty is a less intrusive alternative to another operation for stenosis called a laminectomy. Unlike a laminectomy, a laminoplasty does not remove the lamina and so manages to preserve spinal stability. This is an advantage because it helps the patient to maintain mobility and diminishes the need for future procedures to re-stabilize the spine.
Recovery from a Cervical Laminoplasty Procedure
After undergoing a cervical laminoplasty, a hospital stay is necessary, generally for two to three days. Patients are then required to wear a soft cervical collar for several weeks after surgery to promote stability and healing in the neck.
During recovery from a cervical laminoplasty, patients need to begin a regimen of physical therapy to build up strength and flexibility in the muscles of the neck area. Recovery times vary depending on the age and medical condition of the patient. Patients are restricted from those activities that require bending and lifting for several weeks after the procedure. Generally, most people can return to work and other normal daily activities two to six weeks after surgery.