In order to alleviate stress being exerted on nerves located in the cervical section of the spine, often a surgeon will recommend a procedure known as a cervical laminoplasty, or an alteration of the lamina (the rear portion of bone that lies over the spinal cord). Unlike a laminectomy, which completely removes the lamina, a laminoplasty undertakes a reshaping of the lamina in order to achieve a relieving of pressure on the nerves.
Those suffering from spinal stenosis—a narrowing of the spinal canal due to deterioration of discs or joints that impacts nerve roots and the spinal cord—are good candidates for cervical laminoplasty, as are those who have bone spurs or ligament issues in the cervical area of the spine. Those for whom the procedure is recommended will typically have pain, weakness and a numbness or tingling sensations in the neck and pain in the shoulders, arms and hands. Normal bladder and bowel problems functions may also be affected by spinal stenosis and similar conditions.
With the patient under general anesthesia, a surgeon will make an incision in the back of the neck and move aside neck muscles and tissue to gain access to the back portion of the vertebrae (the lamina). A groove is then created on one side of the damaged cervical vertebra, followed by a complete cut through on the other side and cuts to the tips of spinous processes (a bony protrusion of the lamina). These cuts create room that allows for the bone to swing open, after which the surgeon opens the vertebra to relieve the pressure being exerted on the nerves and spinal cord. Within the open gap, wedges are placed and the area where the bone was able to swing is partially closed (the wedges prevent a complete closure).
Within two hours after surgery patients are able to leave their beds and walk around. However patients will be advised to limit movements of their neck (a collar may be prescribed to prevent movements that may injure the neck). Within four weeks patients are able to resume a gentle range of motion and movement, but full recovery is contingent on the rate of healing, which differs from person to person.