Laminoplasty is another type of spinal surgery used to “decompress” or lessen pressure surrounding the spinal canal and nerve structures. Laminoplasty is a surgical procedure where a portion of the lamina bone is carefully cut all the way through. By carefully cutting through one aspect of the lamina, it is similar to opening a door to create more space around the spinal canal. The surgeon will examine the spinal canal and remove any surrounding debris that may be causing pressure on spinal structures. During a laminoplasty a hinge is created on one side of the lamina and the other is kept open with either a bone strut or small metallic plate placed there by the surgeon. This procedure is commonly performed in the cervical spine and patients often present with issues of pain, weakness, numbness or possibly symptoms of myelopathy which include difficulty with balance, bowel or bladder function, and/or dexterity. This procedure is often performed for those with diagnoses such as spinal stenosis.
The patient is placed under general anesthesia and put in a face down position. An incision is made in the back of the neck to expose the spine, specifically the lamina. The surgeon will then cut through the lamina all the way through or make a “hinge joint” to make more space for the spinal canal. The surgeon can use a small piece of bone or metallic plate to keep the spinal canal open.
Imagine the lamina as the “roof” of the spinal canal. With a laminectomy the roof is removed whereas with a laminoplasty the roof is propped up on one side to make more space for the spinal canal.
No, a spinal fusion is removal of the intervertebral disc and fusion of two vertebral bodies. With a laminoplasty, the disc remains intact.
Laminoplasty is a procedure to make more room around the spinal canal without limiting motion or fusion of the spine. Often, patients that undergo a cervical spinal fusion have significant neck pain related to their degenerative disc. Laminoplasty is often utilized in patients that are having symptoms related to stenosis or narrowing without a significant neck pain component. However, at the Virginia Spine Institute we will review all imaging studies, do a thorough exam, and review all the treatment options, risks, and benefits.
Laminoplasty procedure is often performed in the back of the neck. This area has significant musculature. It is normal to have significant muscle spasm and neck pain after this procedure just from the surgery alone. This is transient and considered normal post-surgical pain. Consider surgery similar to an injury. There will be some achiness, post operative pain and time needed for recovery.
Reviewed by: Dr. Christopher Good, MD, FACS.