Posterior Cervical Laminectomy Surgery
A posterior cervical laminectomy is a surgical procedure that removes pressure from the spinal cord and nerves. By removing the posterior bony structures, the cervical spine surgery allows the spinal cord to move freely, providing direct relief from both radiculopathy or myelopathy. By definition, a laminectomy is the complete removal of a lamina, the bony arch that forms the roof of the spinal canal.
Why is a posterior cervical laminectomy performed?
A posterior cervical laminectomy is an effective way to treat degenerative disorders of the spine that exert pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. This spine surgery is usually reserved for patients with spinal and cord compression or those who have not found relief from non-operative measures such as nerve sheath injections, analgesics, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and activity modification.
A cervical laminectomy is often indicated for patients with spinal stenosis, in which the spinal canal is narrowed. Various degenerative spine conditions can compress and irritate the spinal cord, causing myelopathy, weakness, tingling, and numbness in the shoulders, arms, and extremities.
Goals of a successful surgery
The goal of the surgery is to alleviate symptoms of neural compression that can eventually reduce quality of life. A successful posterior cervical laminectomy mitigates debilitating symptoms, making day-to-day activities much easier. Some of the key benefits include:
- Less pain in the neck, arms, shoulders, and hands
- Enhanced spinal cord function
- Reduced reliance on pain medications
- Prevention of further deterioration and neurological compromise
- Improved stamina
- Less tingling and numbness
Posterior cervical laminectomy procedure
A cervical laminectomy is performed under general anesthesia. An x-ray is used to locate the correct cervical level in the back of the neck, where a vertical incision is made. Soft tissues are retracted to expose the lamina and spinous process. Dr. Barnett then removes portions of the lamina, bone spurs, or calcifications causing compression on the spinal cord and nerves.
If necessary, other instrumentation may be used to improve spinal stability. Once it is evident that the spinal cord has ample room and no risk of further compression, the incision is closed with sutures.
Recovery after surgery
It can take up to 3 months for total recovery after a posterior cervical laminectomy surgery. Patients will usually spend one or two nights in the hospital and are provided a cervical brace and instructions for post-operative care. Pain and tenderness at the incision site is normal, and should decrease day by day.
A physiotherapist will provide instructions on how to improve neck strength and flexibility during the healing process. Most patients can resume light activities around 21 days after surgery. Patients should avoid heavy lifting or extreme twisting of the neck for the first two months. Patients are allowed to walk immediately after surgery and may resume low impact exercise in four weeks.
Schedule a consultation with David W. Barnett, MD
Severe neck and arm pain caused by compression of the cervical spine can be relieved with definitive diagnosis and treatment. If you would like to learn more about a posterior cervical laminectomy with a top neurosurgeon and spine specialist in Dallas, we invite you to schedule an appointment with Dr. David Barnett.
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From start to finish, Dr. Barnett and his staff were always informative and professional. Dr. Barnett performed my neck surgery and lower back surgery all during a pandemic and everything worked out perfect. Highly recommend Dr. Barnett. Top notch.
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