Cervical Laminectomy – The Procedure and Recovery

Cervical Laminectomy is a surgical procedure performed to relieve the pain caused by the pressure put on the spinal cord or the spinal nerves.

While ‘Lamina’ is the tiny flat bone of the vertebrae, ‘-ectomy ‘denotes surgical removal, so the removal of the lamina through a surgical process is called a Laminectomy.

A Brief Background on Spine:

Spine, the central supporting structure of the human body is made up of a chain of little bony structures called vertebrae. Between each vertebra, their rest soft cushions of cartilage, called intervertebral spinal disk giving the flexibility to the bony structure.

The vertebrae join together to form a vertebral canal, a protective case through which the human spinal cord passes and connects the brain to the rest of the body. The bone you feel in the back is called the Spinous Process which protects the Spine, and Lamina is the flat tiny bony to either side of the Spinous process.

What is Cervical Laminectomy?

Over time, the spine may develop problems like shrinking disc, ruptured or herniated disc, and pain-inducing bone spurs which can further shrink the vertebral canal causing pressure on the spinal cord or the nerves that emanate from the vertebral canal. This shrinkage that causes you a pain in back pain or numbness, weakness and aches in the body part associated with affected nerves is called Spinal Stenosis.

If the Spinal Stenosis happens in the cervical region of the spine then arms and hands are the ones that face the wrath since the respective runs through them. And the surgical procedure that is performed to relieve this pain caused by the spinal stenosis near the cervical spine is called Cervical Laminectomy.

How is Cervical Laminectomy performed?

Performed under general anaesthesia by the Spinal Surgeon, Cervical Laminectomy decompresses the spinal canal by removing the lamina, thickened ligaments and/or enlarged facet joints to make more room for the spinal cord and the nerves.

The Spinal specialist makes a posterior incision in the middle of the neck, remove the lamina to relieve the pressure of the spinal cord. Foraminotomy, the removal of the facet joint may also be performed in case the enlarged facet joint is found to decompress the nerve. Sometimes the Spinal Specialist also may perform Spinal Fusion to stabilize the spine. Finally, the Spinal Surgeon closes the incision with absorbable sutures that dissolve in the body over time.

What should the patient expect after the Cervical Laminectomy?

Though it makes take 2-3 days for the patients to be discharged, the patient is encouraged to walk on the first after the procedure. The brace is recommended to the patients to hold the head still during the healing process at home. The post-surgical pain is usually controlled by the pain medications and the Spine Specialist follows up with the patients after 4-5 weeks. Physio-therapy which involves stretching and strength training is recommended respectively. Close to 90% of the patients significantly benefit from Cervical Laminectomy