Pressure on the neck region of the spinal cord can be caused by any number of health issues, including arthritis, bone spurs, degenerative changes, disc herniations, tumors, OPLL or factures. This pressure is often known as stenosis, which can occur at several places along the spine at the same time. If the pressure is severe enough or chronic, a laminoplasty may be recommended to eliminate the pain.
Who needs a laminoplasty?
Patients who are experiencing pain in the neck region or are suffering from myelopathy may be candidates for laminoplasty. The symptoms of myelopathy include pain, numbness, weakness in the arms or hands, difficulty using your hands and or having problems with balance. In some cases, myelopathy may progress to the point where you have trouble walking or using your hands.
Your doctor at the Celebration Health Spine Center will conduct a thorough examination of your spine, including taking a medical history, evaluating your symptoms and ordering specific diagnostic tests, including x-rays or an MRI. If there are signs of compression, you may be a candidate for a laminoplasty.
What is involved in a laminoplasty?
The surgeon begins by making a small incision in the back of the neck. The bone covering the spinal cord, known as the lamina, is partially cut on both sides to create a hinge. The lamina is then moved to the open position to gain access to the spinal cord and take pressure off of it. With the increased space, the spinal cord has enough room to move away from the cause of the pressure and spinal fluid can flow around the cord normally. To keep the position open, a small piece of bone, plastic or metal is inserted. Because the result looks a bit like a doorstop in a door, a laminoplasty is often referred to as an open-door laminoplasty by doctors.
Laminoplasty is a very safe procedure and has been in use for more than 35 years. It has few complications and achieves excellent results. As opposed to fusion, a laminoplasty allows you to retain your full range of motion.
What can I expect following a laminoplasty?
You may have a slight pain in the back of your neck for a few days after surgery. Occasionally, a nerve can move back to its original position, which can cause significant weakness, particularly in the shoulder region. This is usually temporary and should get better over time with no further intervention.
Following a laminoplasty, you’ll be kept in the hospital for two to three days to ensure that you are healing as expected. You will need to wear a neck collar for a couple weeks following surgery. Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy to restore full movement to your neck and strengthen the muscles. You should regain full nerve function 6 to 18 months after surgery, once the spinal cord has healed.