A cervical laminectomy is a spine surgery that involves removing bone to relieve excess pressure on the spinal nerve(s) in the cervical spine, or neck. A cervical laminectomy can be performed to relieve the symptoms of spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal canal.
Spinal stenosis is a condition caused by a gradual narrowing of the spinal canal. This narrowing happens as a result of the degeneration of both the facet joints and the intervertebral discs. The facet joints also enlarge as they become arthritic, which contributes to a decrease in the space available for the nerve roots. Bone spurs, called osteophytes also can form and grow into the spinal canal.
These processes narrow the spinal canal and may begin to impinge upon and place pressure on the nerves roots and spinal cord, resulting in such symptoms as:
The goal of a cervical laminectomy is to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves by removing the part of the lamina that is the source of the pressure.
To determine whether your condition requires treatment with a cervical laminectomy, your doctor will examine your back and your medical history, and may order an X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of your spine. A surgical procedure such as a cervical laminectomy is typically recommended after non-surgical treatment options, such as medication, rest and physical therapy, fail to relieve symptoms after a reasonable length of time.
The operation is performed with the patient on his or her stomach, sedated under general anesthesia.
Through a small incision made at or near the center of the back of the neck, your surgeon will:
A cervical laminectomy also may be performed in conjunction with spinal fusion. This involves placing bone graft or bone graft substitute between two or more affected vertebrae to promote bone growth between the vertebral bodies. The graft material acts as a binding medium and helps to maintain normal disc height – as the body heals, the vertebral bone and bone graft eventually grow together to join the vertebrae and stabilize the spine.
Dr. Ram R. Vasudevan, MD, FAANS
Austin NeuroSpine PLLC
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