What is a Cervical Laminectomy?
Cervical laminectomy is a procedure that removes some of the lamina (the bone enclosing the back of the spinal cord) and spinal processes at the back of the spinal canal to increase space for and decrease pressure on, the spinal cord. The thick neck muscles cover and protect the spinal cord after the bony laminas are removed.
A laminectomy increases the size of the spinal canal, removing the pressure on the spinal cord and usually reduces the progression of the symptoms. Sometimes a fusion of the adjacent vertebrae is also performed to stabilize the region of the laminectomy.
What causes spinal compression?
In degenerative spinal stenosis, any posterior disc protrusion, bone spurs or osteophytes from the vertebral bodies and facet joints, or buckling or calcification of the spinal ligaments, can compress the spinal cord.
In addition, some people are born with a narrow spinal canal, and they tend to get degenerative spinal stenosis symptoms earlier in life – in their forties and fifties.
What is Myelopathy?
Pressure on the spinal cord can damage it, this is called myelopathy. This causes pain, weakness, tingling or numbness in the arms or legs, can affect the use of your hands, how you walk, your bowel and bladder function. Advanced myelopathy can confine you to a wheelchair.
This procedure is recommended where there is persisting pain or weakness that has been shown during examination to be due to spinal cord compression that has not responded to conservative treatment.
Where there is bowel or bladder dysfunction, severe muscle weakness or severe pain that is not controlled by strong pain relievers, immediate surgery may be recommended to prevent permanent spinal cord or nerve damage.
The goals of a cervical laminectomy are to:
- Increase the space for the spinal cord to decrease the pressure on the cord
- Prevent the myelopathy worsening
- Maintain spinal stability, motion and alignment.