Degenerative disc disease is a painful condition that can affect the lumbar spine or the cervical spine and it may not respond to non-surgical treatment ( prescription medication, physical therapy, heat therapy, etc). As the condition progresses, the spinal canal gets narrower, which causes nerves to suffer further compression. Symptoms tend to get worse over time and include lower back pain or neck pain, numbness, and tingling. Spinal fusion is the traditional surgical treatment but reduced motion at the disc level and a slower recovery time are among its disadvantages.
Patients for whom non-surgical treatment has proved unsuccessful may consider undergoing an advanced method of surgical treatment called Posterior Cervical Laminoplasty, which is a minimally invasive spine surgery that is performed under general anesthesia. The term “posterior cervical” refers to the fact that the spine surgeon or neurosurgeon performs the procedure through a small incision in the back of the neck. More specifically, the surgeon cuts the “lamina” partially on one side and completely on the other side. in order to decompress the affected nerves.
It’s worth noting that a laminoplasty procedure is less invasive than a laminectomy procedure because, during a laminectomy, the lamina (i.e. essentially the roof of the spinal canal, nearest to the skin) is removed, whereas during a laminoplasty the lamina is only altered by propping it slightly open in order to widen the spinal canal. This is why one of the main benefits of laminoplasty is the fact that it helps preserve the full range of motion in the affected part of the cervical spine. By maintaining spinal stability and mobility, the need for additional surgical procedures is minimized.
This surgical procedure is a treatment option for multiple spinal conditions, but only an experienced spine surgeon or neurosurgeon can determine if laminoplasty is the right treatment for you, after a thorough physical examination, and medical history, as well as diagnostic imaging of your cervical spine. Generally, patients whose vertebras are compressing their spinal cord at more than one level are good candidates for laminoplasty. If your spine surgeon recommends this procedure, then NSAIDs, vitamins E and K, fish oil, and blood-thinning supplements should be discontinued 10 days before surgery.