Cervical laminectomy / laminoplasty

Bone removed - side view

Bone removed - view from top

Procedure – cervical or thoracic laminectomy

Removal of bone, which forms the back part of the spinal canal (spinous process and lamina) – see ‘The Normal Structure of the Spine’. The procedure is very similar in the cervical and thoracic spine.


Procedure – cervical laminoplasty

In contrast to the laminectomy, the bone, which forms the back part of the spinal canal is not removed but cut on either side and opened like a door. It is hold in place with small plates.

Indication

Decompression of spinal cord and nerves mainly for cervical myelopathy but also radiculopathy.


Risks

Acute: Bleeding, Infection, cerebrospinal fluid leak, neurological deficit including paralysis, death in the case of high cervical cord injury, instability

Long term: Deformity of the spine in forward position (kyphosis) if several levels are done (laminectomy). This is due to damage of the muscles and tendons holding the neck straight.

Overall, the risks, in particular the very serious risks are small but also depend on the underlying condition.


Hospital stay

24-48 hours after operation in majority of cases


Anaesthesia

Always general anaesthesia


Recovery

The neck will feel sore for a few weeks but unless there are complications, recovery is quick. Collars are not routinely used after the operation.


Commonly asked questions

When should I have a laminoplasty and when a laminectomy?

In the majority of cases a laminectomy is sufficient in particular if only 1 or 2 levels are involved. Laminoplasty is indicated if three or more levels need to be decompressed. The operating time for a laminoplasty is longer than for a laminectomy.