The spinal cord is an important nerve structure that is normally protected by the bones of the spine. Loss of spinal cord function occurs when it is compressed by various diseases. One common condition is the compression of the spinal cord by degenerative changes of the spine in the neck such as enlarged joints, thickened ligaments, “bone spurs” and disc protrusions. This can result in progressive disability and loss of function (cervical myelopathy), including clumsiness of hands and inability to walk. This usually occurs in older patients.
Cervical laminoplasty is a type of surgery that is often used to treat this condition. In this surgery, the spine is approached from the back. The back part of the spine (lamina) is “reshaped” with special instruments to create more space for the spinal cord. This relieves the compression on the spinal cord.
Multiple levels of compression (usually more than 3) can be safely treated at the same time with cervical laminoplasty. The main aim of the surgery is to stop the deterioration of spinal cord dysfunction although a significant number of patients do experience improvement, especially if surgery is performed soon after the onset of symptoms.