To relieve pressure from nerve roots or from the spinal cord, often surgeons will recommend a cervical laminectomy, a procedure where the lamina—that portion of bone that lies atop the back of the vertebrae—is removed. Effective in relieving the debilitating symptoms of spinal stenosis—a condition where the spinal cord is being unnaturally squeezed inside the spinal canal—a cervical laminectomy is used in patients who have deteriorating discs, tumors, or bone spurs or fragments that are irritating nerves in and around the cervical spine.
During the procedure, a surgeon makes an incision in the rear of the neck and exposes the rear portion of the vertebrae (the lamina). Cutting a channel in the lamina on both sides and near the area of the facet joint, the lamina is then removed, giving the spinal cord additional room to rest in the spinal canal and alleviating any pressures on the nerve roots.
After removal of the lamina the cervical spine is then fused to stabilize it in conjunction with implanted rods and screws that secure the spine in a normal position. Bone grafts may also be added to promote growth around the fused area.
Walking is usually achieved within two hours, however patients will be advised to limit movements of their neck (a collar may be prescribed to prevent movements that may injure the neck). Discharge from the hospital occurs within one to two days, and within four weeks patients are able to resume a gentle range of motion and movement, although it will take up to three months for the full resumption of normal daily activities.