Guide to Advanced Surgery for The Spine
Cervical laminectomy can help alleviate the symptoms your condition presents. This surgical procedure performed at our facility can give you the possibility to be more active and keep yourself physically fit.
The medical care you will receive from the excellent spine services team at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital will have you rehabilitated in no time as a recovery protocol appropriated to your needs will be optimizing your healing process.
Cervical laminectomy is a surgical procedure that aims to relieve spinal nerve pressure by removing a part of the spine’s bony roof. This term comes from the Latin ‘lamina’ which means thin layer and ‘ectomy’ which means removal.
A cervical laminectomy grants more space for the spinal nerves and alleviates spinal stenosis symptoms (the spinal canal’s narrowing).
When the spinal canal starts narrowing, it gradually leads to a condition called spinal stenosis. What causes this narrowing is the fact that the intervertebral discs, as well as the facet joints, start degenerating.
Moreover, the facet joints become arthritic and they start enlarging, causing space loss for the nerve roots. It’s also possible to see bone spurs (osteophytes) growing in the spinal canal.
All these changes lead to the narrowing of the spinal canal and they can increase the pressure on the spinal cord and nerve root. Some of the associated symptoms are:
- neck pain
- radiating pain in the shoulder or arm
- numbness or tingling in the upper extremities or the neck
- muscle weakness in the upper extremities or the neck
The reason behind the increased pressure of the spinal nerves is the lamina which is removed through a cervical laminectomy.
Your doctor will be able to tell you if you qualify for cervical laminectomy after carefully examining you. To evaluate you, the doctor will look into your medical history and you might also be required to provide X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans of the spine. This intervention is usually recommended for patients who tried other therapy options, but their symptoms remained persistent even after an extended period of time.
- The patient receives general anesthesia and lies on his or her stomach.
- The surgeon makes a surgical incision in the central area of the back of the patient’s neck.
- Then, the soft tissue consisting of the skin, muscle, and fat is pulled aside so that the surgeon can access the vertebral bone located at the back of the spine.
- The surgeon cuts a section of the lamina in order to relieve the pressure.
- Other sources of compression such as disc materials or bone spurs are also removed.
- Afterward, the soft tissue is put back in place and the incision is closed.
Cervical laminectomy and spinal fusion can be performed conjointly. The latter aims to enhance bone growth by placing a bone graft or a bone substitute between two or more damaged vertebrae. The graft is useful in binding the vertebrae and maintaining a normal disc height during the healing process. In time, the bone graft will grow together with the vertebral bone.
A laminectomy procedure is often helpful in alleviating symptoms of spinal stenosis, especially with pain and discomfort associated with this condition. About 70-80% of patients have had a noticeable decrease in neck pain and the radiating type of pain in the shoulder and arms. A substantial improvement in the ability to carry out routine activities and a successful return to work has been possible in the majority of patients who have undergone laminectomy. Generally, the benefits of a laminectomy procedure are much more than the reduction in pain. You may expect the following results:
- Improved movements: You may move around more easily.
- Physical activity: You can be more active and keep yourself physically fit.
- Return to work: You may return to your job and more importantly, it allows you to be more productive at work.
- Lesser medication: You can stop pain medications.
However, laminectomy does not avoid spine problems from occurring in the future and it may not totally relieve pain in all patients.
Your doctor will provide you with the most appropriate recommendations that will allow you to recover fast and turn back to your routine activities. Some of the symptoms you felt will disappear soon after the surgery, others will require more time.
Your hospitalization will vary based on the treatment plan you have to follow. Some patients who undergo the surgery are released the same day. Normally, patients are able to stand and walk on the same day the surgery is performed. You will be able to return to work based on how well you heal and what type of activity your job implies.
Help your doctor determine what recovery plan is appropriate for your case by working closely together. After you receive your doctor’s indications, try to follow them thoroughly in order to ensure a fast recovery process.
If you want to know whether you qualify for cervical laminectomy or not, consult your doctor.