A cervical laminectomy relieves pressure on the cervical spine. After an incision, the surgeon removes the lamina, taking the pressure off the back part of the spinal cord and nerves.

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The Definition of Cervical Laminectomy

The spinal cord needs adequate space inside the spinal canal (see diagram to the right).  Thus, the spinal canal consists of a protective ring of bone that surrounds it.  Because fractures, dislocations, tumors, or degenerative changes in the discs and joints of the neck can put pressure on the spinal cord, placing the entire spinal cord in danger.  Because the protective ring of bone around the spinal cord does not expand to accommodate more space, a surgery that opens the back of the spinal cord relieves the pressure. To further explain, this procedure refers to a procedure called a laminectomy.

Continue to read this page to learn about cervical laminectomy including

    • How it affects the cervical spine
    • Why do doctors perform a laminectomy
    • What you can expect from this procedure to include possible complications
    • How rehabilitation can improve your results
vertebrae explained


In order to understand your symptoms and treatment choices, patients should begin with a basic understanding of the anatomy of the neck. Additionally, this includes becoming familiar with the various parts that make up the cervical spine and how they work together.

The bones of the spinal column protect the spinal cord and the vertebral body protects the front of the spinal cord. To protect the spinal cord, the pedicle and lamina bones form a ring of bone that surrounds the sides and back of the spinal cord. Additionally, the pedicles connect to the vertebral body and the lamina bones attach to the pedicles. Also, the lamina bones cover the back surface of the spinal canal, forming a protective roof over the spinal cord.


Bone spurs and herniated discs can take up space inside the spinal canal and put pressure on the spinal cord. When the spinal canal becomes narrowed by these conditions, the condition refers to the medical term called spinal stenosis. If spinal stenosis causes your symptoms, a surgeon can enlarge the spinal canal by removing bone spurs.  Furthermore, this can be achieved with a complete laminectomy, which means. “remove the lamina”.  Fortunately, removing the lamina gives more room for the spinal cord and spinal nerves and relieves the pressure. 


The surgeon begins by making an incision down the center of the back of the neck. Then the neck muscles are moved to the side.  Upon reaching the back surface of the spine, the surgeon uses an X-ray to identify the problem vertebra. Once the doctor removes the lamina, the pressure goes away from the back part of the spinal cord and nerves.

Removing the entire lamina in the cervical spine may cause problems with the stability of the cervical spine. If the facet joints are damaged during the laminectomy, the spine may become unstable and cause problems later. To prevent this problem, spine surgeons simply cut one side of the lamina and fold it back slightly and the other side of the lamina opens like a hinge. Therefore, this makes the spinal canal larger, giving the spinal cord more room. Finally, the cut area of the lamina eventually heals to keep the spine from tilting forward.


Like all surgical procedures, operations on the neck may have complications. Because the surgeon operates around the spinal cord, neck operations are always considered extremely delicate and potentially dangerous. Therefore, patients should take the time to review the risks associated with cervical spine surgery with their doctor. Also, make sure you are comfortable with both the risks and the benefits of the procedure planned for your treatment.


After surgery, you’ll be able to get up and begin moving within a few hours. upon the conclusion of the surgery, your doctor may have placed you in a neck collar. To avoid doing too much after surgery, patients should limit their activities. Usually, within a few days after surgery, most patients are able to return home when their medical condition stabilizes.

Learn more about spinal rehabilitation after surgery

Physical Therapy

Beginning four to six weeks after surgery, your doctor may have you attend physical therapy. To calm pain and inflammation, a well-rounded rehabilitation program will improve mobility and strength, and help you do your daily activities with greater ease and ability. To your knowledge, therapy sessions may be scheduled two to three times each week for up to six weeks.

Then the goals of physical therapy are to help you

  • Further, learn how to manage your condition and control symptoms
  • Improve flexibility and strength
  • Further, learn correct posture and body movements to reduce neck strain
  • Return to work safely


If you or a loved one suffers from spinal pain, you owe it to yourself to call Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute at 9214-556-0555 to make an appointment.