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Cervical Laminectomy Surgery

Why Is It Done?

If spinal stenosis is the main cause of your neck pain, then the spinal canal must be made larger and any bone spurs pressing on the nerves must be removed. One way that this is done is with a complete laminectomy. Laminectomy means "remove the lamina". The lamina is the back side of the spinal canal and forms the roof over the spinal cord. Removing the lamina gives more room for the nerves and allows the removal of bone spurs from around the nerves. A laminectomy reduces the pressure on the spinal cord and the irritation and inflammation of the spinal nerves.

The OperationCervical Laminectomy

To perform a cervical spine laminectomy, an incision is made down the center of the back of the neck. The muscles are then moved to the side. The arteries and nerves in the neck are protected as well.

Once the spine is reached from the back, each vertebra is identified. Your surgeon will probably take an X-ray during surgery to make sure that the right vertebrae are being selected and the correct lamina removed. Once this is determined, the lamina of the affected vertebrae is removed. Any bone spurs that are found sticking off the back of the vertebra are removed as well. Great care is taken to not damage the spinal cord and nerve roots.

In the cervical spine, removing the lamina completely may cause problems with the stability of the facet joints between each vertebra. If the joints are damaged during the laminectomy, the spine may begin to tilt forward causing problems later. One way that spine surgeons try to prevent this problem is not to actually remove the lamina. Instead, they simply cut one side of the lamina and fold it back slightly. The other side of the lamina opens like a hinge. This makes the spinal canal larger, giving the spinal cord more room. The cut area of the lamina eventually heals to keep the spine from tilting forward.

What Happens Afterwards?

Following surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room for a short while and then spend a few days in a hospital room. When you awake you may have a collar or brace around your neck or a drainage tube coming out of your neck. Typically, the drainage tube is removed in a day or two.

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