Conditions like cervical spondylotic myelopathy and cervical stenosis can cause narrowing of the spinal canal or the space between the discs, compressing the spinal cord and/or nerve roots in the neck. This compression of the spinal cord and nerves can result in pain or stiffness in the neck and tingling, numbness, or weakness of the hands, arms, fingers, and shoulders. Eventually, symptoms can progress to the point that the patient has problems with coordination and fine motor skills.

For some patients, nonsurgical treatments like medications and physical therapy may be effective in relieving symptoms. However, if nonsurgical treatment does not relieve symptoms, surgery may be recommended.

Cervical laminoplasty is one of the surgical options we offer at Austin Spine to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves.

The procedure

A laminoplasty is performed on the lamina, which makes up part of the back wall of the vertebrae. A laminoplasty is different from a laminectomy in that the lamina is “hinged open” rather than removed.

The goal of a cervical laminoplasty is to relieve pressure on the spine and spinal nerves by creating more space for the spinal cord and nerves. Relieving pressure on these nerves will help to relieve symptoms like pain, numbness, and tingling.

During the procedure, your surgeon will make an incision at the back, or posterior, of the neck. Retractors are then inserted to hold the muscle away from the bones in the neck. The surgeon then thins out the lamina on one side and cuts all the way through on the other side. This creates a “hinge” in the bone, allowing the cut side of the lamina to open like a door. This creates more space for the spinal cord and nerves, relieving pressure. Small pieces of bone are wedged into the space to hold the lamina in the “open” position, and fixation devices hold the bone in place.

Risks and benefits of cervical laminoplasty

A cervical laminoplasty can preserve motion in the neck. This allows for much greater range of motion than what remains after a laminectomy or fusion procedure, which can result in a lowered risk of adjacent segment disease. Because the lamina is not removed, the spine may be more stable than it would be after a laminectomy.

However, if your neck pain is related to neck motion, a laminoplasty may not be helpful because it does not limit neck motion as much as other procedures. In some cases, a laminoplasty may not create enough space for the spinal cord, or the hinge may close, narrowing the space for the spinal cord. Your doctor will discuss all benefits and risks prior to the procedure and help you choose the surgical option that best fits your needs.

Candidates for cervical laminoplasty

A full examination, complete with medical history, is necessary to determine whether you are a candidate for a cervical laminoplasty. Cervical laminoplasty is generally only recommended if nonsurgical treatment methods have failed. If you are experiencing pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in your arms, shoulders, hands, or fingers as a result of pressure on the spinal cord or nerves, surgery may be recommended before symptoms progress. If left untreated, these conditions can lead to more serious neurological problems, such as loss of bladder or bowel function.

Cervical laminoplasty for patients in the Austin area and across Texas

At Austin Spine, we are committed to providing the highest quality spine care possible. Our patients have honored us with top scoring reviews! We offer both surgical and nonsurgical treatment options for a variety of spine conditions. If you have a condition like cervical spondylotic myelopathy and cervical stenosis or suspect that you might, schedule an appointment with us for an evaluation. Our skilled spine surgeons offer a variety of treatment options, including cervical laminoplasty, to relieve symptoms. To learn more about your options, give us a call at (512) 347-7463.