What is Cervical Laminoplasty Surgery?
A laminoplasty is a surgical procedure designed to widen the spinal canal and provide the spinal column additional space – helping to reduce any possible compression. The lamina is a section of bone, that forms a semi-rigid roof above the spinal canal.
With a laminoplasty, a hinge is created at once side of the lamina, while the other side is wedged open by a bone strut or metallic plate. In essence, this creates a “sunroof” effect for the spinal canal, as the lamina is propped open at one end, and hinged at the other. This ensures the spine is no longer as confined nor constricted – reducing any type of compression.
Why Do You Need a Cervical Laminoplasty?
The cervical laminoplasty procedure is a decompression procedure performed in an effort to treat a number of different spinal conditions that lead to spinal stenosis – or the narrowing of the spinal canal, causing excess compression on the nerves or the spinal column itself.
In the event that this compression of the nerves is left untreated, it can eventually lead to radiculopathy of the cervical spine – causing pain, weakness, numbness and other issues in the arms and legs. The compression of the spine is even worse when left untreated, as it can lead to permanent damage to the spinal cord known as myelopathy – causing pain, weakness, numbness and even permanent loss of function or nerve damage.
Some of the more common conditions treated by Cervical Laminoplasty include:
- Cervical Spinal Stenosis
- Spondylotic Myelopathy
- Ossification of the posterior Longitudinal Ligament
Benefits of the Laminoplasty
When an individual is suffering from compression conditions such as the above, there are a few different options they have. The laminoplasty is often compared to the laminectomy, another decompression procedure. However, in the laminectomy procedure, rather than creating a “hinged sunroof” effect for the lamina, it is completely removed. The laminoplasty offers a few important benefits over the laminectomy, including:
- Leaves more bone and ligament tissue intact.
- Maintains additional spinal balance.
- Provides a protective layer that prevents scar tissue from developing following surgery.
However, it is important to note that, despite these benefits, the laminectomy procedure does offer additional decompression, as it allows the spinal column the maximum amount of space. For those patients who are experiencing more compression, the laminectomy might be for you.
The procedure begins with an incision made down the middle of the backside of the neck, exposing the spinal column area. Once we gain access to the spinal column, a thin cut is made at the meeting point of the lamina and the facet joint – the cut extends from the outer layer of the bone, to the middle layer (leaving the inner-most layer untouched). At the other side, another, similar cut is made, however, this one cuts through the outer, middle and inner layers of the lamina. The lamina is then wedged open at the fully cut part of the lamina – kept open either using a metal pressure plate or another piece of bone material. The incisions are then closed.
This should provide patients with significant decompression of the spinal column, helping to curb a number of symptoms such as pain, muscle weakness, numbness, and other movement and function issues. For a few weeks following surgery, patients will have to wear a neck collar to limit the neck movement and cannot resume their daily activities until about 4-6 weeks after the decompression. There will be constant follow-ups for the first few weeks to months, to be aware of any possible complications from surgery. For more information on this procedure, other spinal procedure, or to schedule a consultation, contact Dr. Arutyunyan today.