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Cervical Laminectomy Surgery: The procedure and complications

  • Posted on- Aug 23, 2016
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Cervical laminectomy is a surgical procedure undertaken for the correction of the cervical vertebrae. Undergoing this surgery is quite beneficial for patients suffering from backache and other spinal cord problems, since it relieves the disorder.

The spinal cord or the backbone is an important part of the skeletal system, which provides support and posture to the body. The backbone extends from the skull to the coccyx, or the tail bone. The upper part of the spinal cord is called the cervical spinal cord and reaches till the upper abdomen. The lower portion is the lumbar spine, which extends till the tail bone. Sometimes, due to an improper posture or trauma and injury to the backbone, the individual may suffer from spine disorders. It is essential to undergo treatment and surgery (in case the injury is severe) to correct the problem. One such treatment option is the cervical laminectomy, which is undertaken to correct spinal deformities in the posterior region of the neck. This neurosurgical procedure is also known as posterior laminotomy.

Cervical laminectomy procedure

Due to certain degenerative changes in the neck, it can result in neck pain, which can be quite uncomfortable and hamper daily activities. Though majority of the patients may not require surgery to correct this disorder, sometimes these deformities tend to put pressure on the spinal cord and the need for surgery arises. Spinal stenosis of the cervical backbone can be caused due to ageing or continuous wear and tear of the spinal column. The symptoms exhibited by this disorder and pain and numbness in the neck region, followed by a tingling sensation which may radiate till the arms. At times, it may also cause spinal decompression, which may lead to a lot of discomfort. If the condition does not heal even after administering conservative treatment options like complete bed rest, physiotherapy and medications, then the osteopath may opt for surgery.

Before undergoing surgery, the patient should discuss the available options with the doctor. Prior to the surgery, the patient needs to prepare physically and mentally. Certain medications may also require discontinuation before the surgery to prevent post surgical complications. This surgery is carried out under general anaesthesia after which the patient is made to lie down on his back. An incision will be made on the affected region. The surgeon may use an X-ray of the neck to identify the problem and correct it. The lamina and bone spurs are removed. Any other material that jeopardises the condition of the nerves will be removed. In some cases, the doctor may fuse the spinal canal and the spinal cord, with the help of metals discs and plates, held in place by screws. After the surgery, the incision is sewn up and the site is bandaged. Till complete recovery, the patient may be advised to wear a neck brace to hold the head in place till the surgical wound heals. The recovery time takes approximately 4 to 5 weeks, post which the individual can resume his daily activities. Spinal stenosis exercises may also be recommended by the neurosurgeon.

Complications associated with cervical laminectomy procedure

As seen earlier, a cervical laminectomy is a surgical procedure that is initiated as a measure for neck and upper back pain relief and also to correct other problems of the spinal cord. However, improper post operative care can result in a few complications, which need to be attended immediately to avoid further damage.

  • Infection at the site of the incision is one of the most common complications experienced after any surgery. This infection may be superficial, affecting only the incision and surrounding areas. But in some cases, it can result from within and affect the tissues.
  • The incision may take a longer time to heal and during the process, it can cause pain. Some individuals may experience persistent pain, which may become intense while moving the neck.
  • For the fusion of the spinal cord, metal plates may be used. These metal plates, called hardware, can dislodge from the surgical site and move to other regions. To fix the hardware back in the original site, the patient may have to undergo a second surgery.
  • The presence of scar tissue can cause inflammation in the surrounding tissues. It may also damage the nerves further. During the surgery, there are chances that the dura or the sheath covering the nerves may be nicked, making the individual more prone to spinal cord injuries.

The neurosurgeon may recommend physiotherapy and a few neck exercises in order to speed up the recovery process, post surgery. Apart from this, eating a balanced diet is also equally vital in combating health problems.


user profile image
27-09-2017 07:35 AM

I was diagnosed with 2 slipped discs about 5 years ago. I hurt my back. I had my treatment done and now I am fine.

user profile image
15-09-2017 09:10 PM

I was suffering from backache for a very long time. I had my treatment done from a physiotherapist and the results are fine. Now, I am not having such type of pain.

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