Cervical Laminectomy in New Jersey
ometimes neck pain goes away after resting or taking pain medication. But in other cases, a slipped disc in the neck or another spinal condition can cause chronic neck pain that radiates into the arms. Patients also may experience tingling, numbness, or weakness in the arms or hands.
A cervical laminectomy is a surgical procedure that can treat neck pain caused by compression of the spinal nerves. At Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics (CNSO) in New Jersey, the medical team has extensive experience performing laminectomy procedures, as well as providing other treatment options for neck pain. Learn more about cervical laminectomy and what to expect before, during, and after the procedure.
What Is Cervical Laminectomy?
Cervical laminectomy is a type of spinal decompression surgery. A laminectomy removes part or all of a structure called the lamina, the bony arch on the back of the vertebra. This relieves pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots.
Preparing for Cervical Laminectomy
A cervical laminectomy may be recommended for patients with spinal stenosis or other conditions that cause chronic neck pain after conservative treatments are ineffective. To prepare for a laminectomy procedure, a patient typically will have an initial consultation with a spine specialist. They may require additional imaging tests, such as an MRI or CT scan.
The patient also may meet with a spine surgeon who will cover all the benefits and potential risks of laminectomy, as well as answer any questions the patient may have. At CNSO, the board-certified neurosurgeons and spine surgeons take a conservative approach to care. Surgery is recommended only after the medical staff has exhausted all less invasive care options.
Types of Cervical Laminectomy
The cervical spine is made up of the seven stacked vertebrae in the neck, labeled C1 – C7. A spine surgeon may perform a single-level or multi-level cervical laminectomy. A single-level laminectomy treats nerve compression at one vertebra in the cervical spine, whereas a multi-level procedure removes two or more lamina.
A cervical laminectomy may be performed as a minimally invasive or open neck surgery. Usually, an open or traditional approach requires a larger incision than minimally invasive spine surgery, which uses a special microscope to visualize the spine anatomy.
Conditions Requiring Cervical Laminectomy
Several conditions can create spinal nerve compression that leads to chronic pain in the neck and shoulders. These include:
- Cervical spinal stenosis: This is a narrowing of the spinal canal, often caused by conditions such as osteoarthritis. With less space in the spinal canal, the nerves are compressed and irritated.
- Cervical disc herniation: The discs that serve as shock absorbers between the vertebrae can wear out over time, becoming displaced and pressing against spinal nerves.
- Cervical spondylolisthesis: This condition develops when one vertebra slips forward over the vertebra below it, causing neck pain that can radiate into the shoulder.
The Cervical Laminectomy Procedure
Before a cervical laminectomy is performed, the patient usually is put under general anesthesia so they do not feel any pain. They may lie on their back or side, depending on the surgical approach. To perform the procedure, the spine surgeon will make a small incision over the affected vertebra. They will remove part or all of the lamina, and they may surgically remove diseased disc material or bone spurs. Once the procedure is complete, the surgeon will close the incision with stitches or surgical staples.
If the patient needs cervical spinal fusion, the surgeon can perform fusion surgery along with the laminectomy. This requires connecting two or more vertebrae with a bone graft or stabilization hardware.
Minimally Invasive Cervical Laminectomy
As medical technology advances, more procedures are being performed using minimally invasive surgical techniques. Minimally invasive spine surgery requires a smaller incision than open spine surgery, with less trauma to the surrounding muscles and soft tissues. This means patients experience less blood loss and postoperative pain and usually can have a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery. However, more complicated procedures may require a larger incision, and a minimally invasive approach is not always possible.
Postoperative Care and Recovery
Following a cervical laminectomy, some patients will go home the same day, while others may require a short hospital stay. This will depend on the surgical approach and whether the laminectomy was part of a more extensive procedure, as well as the patient’s overall health. Most patients will experience some discomfort and swelling at the incision site, which can be managed with pain medication. Rehabilitation likely will include physical therapy to help reduce postoperative pain and improve strength and flexibility in the neck.
Potential Complications and Risks
Complications can occur with any surgical procedure though they seldom occur. In addition to infection or bleeding at the incision site, spine care carries the risk of nerve damage or spinal cord injury. In some cases, neck or back pain does not resolve after surgery, an issue known as failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS). A patient’s surgical team will discuss any potential complications with them and can share how they mitigate risk as much as possible.
Long-Term Outlook and Prognosis
While all patients recover at different paces, they will be able to get up and move around even while still in the hospital. The rehabilitation plan will outline how quickly the patient can resume normal activities, go back to work, and begin driving again. Cleveland Clinic reports 70% to 80% of patients have significant pain relief and symptom improvement after laminectomy.
Lifestyle Changes for a Healthy Spine
Conditions like spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease cannot always be prevented. However, certain lifestyle changes can help improve a patient’s spine health, such as:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Staying physically active and stretching regularly
- Using ergonomic supports at work
Patients in occupations that involve physical labor should take extra care to use proper lifting techniques to reduce strain on the spine.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cervical Laminectomy
Frequently asked questions regarding laminectomy surgery include:
Will Cervical Laminectomy Relieve Neck Pain?
Surgery is not a guarantee of symptom relief. However, the majority of patients experience a significant reduction in neck pain after cervical laminectomy.
Can the Condition Be Prevented From Worsening?
Spinal stenosis cannot be reversed, but conservative treatments such as physical therapy and pain medication can reduce inflammation and pain.
How Soon Can a Patient Return to Work?
Many patients can return to work two to four weeks after cervical laminectomy. However, physically demanding jobs may require additional recovery time.
What Is the Average Cost of Cervical Laminectomy?
The cost of surgery will depend on several factors. Patients should check with their insurance provider for information on coverage and copay obligations.
Are There Non-surgical Alternatives?
Yes, conditions such as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis often can be treated without surgery. Pain medication, physical therapy, and epidural steroid injections all can help treat neck pain and related symptoms.
Trust CNSO for Cervical Laminectomy
Cervical laminectomy for spinal stenosis often can provide full or partial symptom relief. Like any surgical procedure, it is crucial to follow all proper medical guidance provided by the patient’s surgical team. At CNSO, patients receive advanced surgical and non-surgical care for spinal stenosis, disc herniation, and other conditions that cause neck and back pain.
With convenient locations throughout northern New Jersey, patients can take advantage of personalized care from a comprehensive team of neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine surgeons, interventional pain management physicians, physiatrists, rehabilitation specialists, and certified physical therapists. For more information, contact CNSO today.