What is Cervical Laminoplasty?

As a neck surgeon, Dr. Braxton performs cervical laminoplasty for patients suffering from cervical degenerative disc disease. Performed from the back of the neck, the goal of this surgery is to alleviate the source of pressure on the cervical spinal cord. Cervical degenerative conditions treated by laminoplasty include:

  • Cervical spine arthritis
  • Cervical disc herniations
  • Bone spurs
  • Tumors
  • Cervical fractures
  • Ligament issues like ossification of the posterior ligament (OPLL)

The pressure placed on the cervical spinal cord causes a condition called cervical spinal stenosis. In patients with advanced cervical spinal stenosis, myelopathy may develop, causing further symptoms and pain. Laminoplasty removes the source of the pressure by making more room for the spinal cord without adversely impacting the patient’s range of motion.

What Does Cervical Laminoplasty Treat?

The correction of pressure on the cervical spine is the goal of cervical laminoplasty. This procedure alleviates symptoms caused by cervical degenerative disc disease. These symptoms include:

  • Pain in neck, back, legs, thighs or buttocks
  • Increased pain when standing or exercising
  • Muscular weakness, cramping, stiffness and spasms
  • Problems walking
  • Abnormal sensations of numbness, tingling or reduced feeling
  • Reduced hand function and overall coordination
  • Unusual reflex triggering
  • Diagnosis of spinal tumors

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How is Cervical Laminoplasty Performed?

As a neck surgeon, Dr. Braxton works closely with patients to evaluate eligibility for cervical laminoplasty. This procedure requires general anesthesia and patients typically spend 2-3 days in the hospital. Surgery is conducted from the back of the neck. The initial phase of the procedure prepares the cervical level that is being treated which creates space to address the cause of the nerve pressure.

The source of pressure on the spinal cord is corrected. In most cases this is done by removing a herniated disc or bone spur. This procedure ensures that spinal fluid can flow normally around the spinal cord. A bone, plastic, or metal spacer is implanted to maintain the spinal canal opening. A cervical laminoplasty is a relatively quick procedure with little complications. Fusion is commonly avoided, allowing patients to maintain normal range of motion.

What to Expect After Cervical Laminoplasty?

As with most major surgeries, postoperative expectations include a period of pain management and recovery. Hospital stays range from 2-3 days. Along with normal post-operative goals, patients must be comfortable walking. As expected, patients report cervical pain for several days after the procedure. Pain management should be maintained until the patient becomes more comfortable. A cervical collar is recommended for the early recovery period. This provides extra support and stability and limits agitating motion. Nerve recovery is known to be slow and steady. Patient experience can vary depending on the preoperative condition, overall health and the body’s response to the procedure. Most patients experience a significant improvement in nerve function within the first 2-3 months. Full healing and improvement continues for the next 6 to 18 months.

The majority of patients report a full improvement from their preoperative condition. In rare cases, long-standing compression can lead to limited improvement. Even more rare, single spinal cord nerves can become agitated from the procedure. This may cause symptoms and typically improve on their own over time. Dr. Braxton’s post-surgical follow-up care includes monitoring patient progress and further recommendations, as needed. Cervical laminoplasty is an excellent option for resolving symptoms in patients with spinal cord compression.

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