At the Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute, when needed, we use a procedure called a Cervical Laminectomy to Stop Pain
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
Questions and Answers
What is a Cervical Laminectomy
A cervical laminectomy is a surgical procedure performed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerves in the neck region (cervical spine). It involves the removal of the lamina, a part of the vertebra that covers and protects the spinal canal. By removing the lamina, the surgeon creates more space for the spinal cord and nerves, alleviating compression and reducing symptoms such as pain, weakness, or numbness in the neck, shoulders, arms, or hands.
Who is a Candidate for a Cervical Laminectomy
A cervical laminectomy may be recommended for individuals experiencing symptoms due to spinal cord or nerve compression in the cervical spine. Candidates for this procedure typically have conditions such as:
- Cervical spinal stenosis: Narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck, often due to age-related degeneration or herniated discs, leading to compression of the spinal cord or nerves.
- Cervical spondylosis: Degenerative changes in the cervical spine, including bone spurs or herniated discs, that cause pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
- Cervical disc herniation: When a disc in the cervical spine ruptures or protrudes, compressing the spinal cord or nerve roots.
A thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional, including a physical examination, imaging tests (such as MRI or CT scans), and a review of symptoms, is necessary to determine if a cervical laminectomy is appropriate for an individual’s specific condition.
What is the Recovery Process after a Cervical Laminectomy
Recovery from a cervical laminectomy varies depending on factors such as the individual’s overall health, the extent of the procedure, and the presence of any other underlying conditions. However, here are some general aspects of the recovery process:
- Hospital stay: After the surgery, the individual may need to stay in the hospital for a few days for monitoring and pain management. The healthcare team will provide instructions on wound care and mobility during this time.
- Pain management: Pain and discomfort are common after a cervical laminectomy. Medications will be prescribed to manage pain during the recovery period. Follow the prescribed medication regimen and communicate any concerns or side effects to the healthcare team.
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy: Depending on the individual’s condition and the surgeon’s recommendations, physical therapy may be initiated a few weeks after the procedure. Physical therapy aims to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the neck and shoulders. The therapist will provide exercises and guidance to aid in recovery and prevent complications.
- Gradual return to activities: It is important to follow the surgeon’s instructions regarding activity restrictions and gradually increase activity levels as tolerated. Returning to work or engaging in physical activities too soon can hinder the healing process.
- Long-term care: Regular follow-up appointments with the surgeon will be necessary to monitor the healing process and address any concerns. Long-term care may involve continued physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, and adopting proper body mechanics to prevent future complications.
In order to understand their 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, surgeons can achieve this 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.
A cervical laminectomy, a surgical procedure, relieves pressure on the spinal cord and nerves in the cervical spine (neck region). It involves the removal of the lamina, a bony structure, that covers and protects the spinal canal. Surgeons perform the procedure when a patient undergoes general anesthesia, which means the patient sleeps during the surgery. The surgeon begins by making an incision in the back of the neck, directly over the affected area. The length and placement of the incision may vary depending on the specific needs of the patient and the location of the spinal compression.
Once the incision is made, the surgeon carefully moves the muscles and tissues aside to access the cervical spine. This may involve the use of specialized instruments and retractors to create a clear surgical field. The surgeon then identifies the affected vertebrae and locates the lamina.
Using precise surgical tools, such as a high-speed drill or bone-cutting instruments, the surgeon removes the lamina. This process is called a laminectomy. The removal of the lamina creates more space within the spinal canal, relieving pressure on the spinal cord and nerves due to conditions like spinal stenosis, spondylosis, or disc herniation. During the laminectomy, the surgeon may also perform additional procedures if necessary. For example, if there are bone spurs or herniated discs contributing to the compression, surgeons may remove these as well. This helps further decompress the spinal cord and nerves and restore normal function.
]Once the necessary decompression is achieved, the surgeon carefully closes the incision using sutures or staples. Sterile dressings or a surgical bandage are applied to the incision site to promote healing and protect the surgical area. The patient is then moved to the recovery area to wake up from anesthesia where doctors and nurses will closely monitor them.
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, patients will 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. The patient will then typically remain in the hospital for a few days for postoperative care and pain management. During this time, the healthcare team will provide instructions on wound care, pain medications, and mobility guidelines. Physical therapy may be initiated during the hospital stay or after discharge to aid in the recovery process.
Recovery from a cervical laminectomy can vary depending on the individual and the extent of the surgery. It is important to follow the surgeon’s instructions regarding activity restrictions, medication use, and rehabilitation. Patients will schedule Regular follow-up appointments to monitor the healing process and address any concerns.
Learn more about spinal rehabilitation after surgery
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. Doctors will advise the patients to schedule physical therapy sessions 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
Why Choose Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Specialists
Spinal Orthopedics is a specialty of our doctors and surgeons at Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute. They understand your concerns, can answer your questions regarding your condition, and know how to use their specialized knowledge to assist you. Richard Hostin, MD, Devesh Ramnath, MD, Ishaq Syed, MD, Shyam Kishan, MD, and Kathryn Wiesman, MD, have many years of training and experience in Spine and Back Pain for kids, adolescents, young adults, and seniors, and can help people of all ages get back to living the life they love.
The following are just a few of the many reasons why patients might choose Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute.
- Expertise in the spine: The team of specialists at Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute is spine experts. They specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of spinal conditions, ensuring the best possible care for their patients.
- Cutting-edge technology: Our practice uses the latest technology and techniques to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions. In addition, we use minimally invasive procedures that reduce pain and promote faster recovery.
- Comprehensive care: Our practice offers a full range of services, from diagnostic imaging and physical therapy to surgery. We ensure that patients receive complete, seamless care for their spinal conditions.
- Dedicated facilities: Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute is dedicated to providing patients with a safe and comfortable environment.
Finally, our board-certified physicians and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons use the full range of treatments to treat their spine patients. Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute’s experts with offices in Dallas, Plano, and Frisco, Texas offer cutting-edge technology, comprehensive care, and dedicated facilities to ensure the best possible care for their patients. Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment.
If you or a loved one suffers from spinal pain, you owe it to yourself to call Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute at 214-556-0555 to make an appointment.