Cervical Laminectomy

The spinal cord and nerve roots in the neck are surrounded and protected by the cervical vertebrae. These bones have an opening called the spinal canal through which the spinal cord passes. Ligaments and blood vessels are also present in the spinal canal. The nerve roots start at the spinal cord and pass through an opening between the vertebrae called the intervertebral foramen (or neural foramen). From there, they extend to other parts of the body.


Fig. 1: Cervical spine viewed from behind


Spinal stenosis is a condition where there is narrowing of the spinal canal and often the neural foramen that causes compression of the spinal cord and/or nerve roots. This narrowing is caused by numerous factors including bone spurs, degeneration of the intervertebral disks and facet joints, and thickening of the ligaments. Among the symptoms spinal stenosis can produce are pain and/or numbness in the arms, clumsiness of the hands, and gait disturbances.

Fig. 2: Cervical vertebrae viewed from the top  

Cervical laminectomy is a procedure to treat spinal stenosis. The back of the spinal canal is removed by cutting the lamina to provide more space for the spinal cord and nerve roots.

By relieving pressure on the spinal cord it is the goal of cervical laminectomy to stop the progression of damage to the spinal cord and allow for as much recovery of function as possible.

Other procedures, including laminoplasty can also be performed for this condition. More information about laminoplasty can be found by clicking here.

Your doctor will provide details of the procedure that is right for you as well as the benefits and risks. He will also provide instructions for your care before and after the procedure.

    Fig. 3: During decompressive laminectomy the lamina and spinous process are removed relieving pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots.  
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