What is a Cervical Laminoplasty?
Cervical laminoplasty is a procedure to open the spinal canal from the back of the cervical spine. The operation is usually done to relieve pressure on the spinal cord at multiple levels of the spine.
An incision is made in the back of the neck, and the cervical bones are exposed. A cut is made in one side of each cervical "lamina." This creates a hinge, and allows the spinal canal to be opened up at these levels. A piece of bone is used to hold the spinal canal open, and a small plate and screws are used to hold it in place.
The patient will be asked to wear a cervical collar for a short period of time. Since the bones are not being fused, the collar does not need to stay in place for a long period of time. Unlike a "decompression and fusion," patients undergoing a cervical laminoplasty will be able to move the neck much more quickly. One of the benefits of a cervical laminoplasty is that these patients will maintain more of their natural neck range of motion after the operation.
For many patients who have been offered a posterior cervical decompression and fusion, a cervical laminoplasty may be a preferred motion-preserving operation. For a variety of reasons, not all patients will be a good candidate for a laminoplasty. It is important to have an informed discussion with your surgeon about which operation is right for you. Not all surgeons perform both procedures, and may therefore only recommend a fusion or even recommend against a cervical laminoplasty only because they are not trained in motion-preserving techniques.