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Cervical Laminectomy

About Cervical Laminectomy

When the lower part of the cerebellum extends down into the spinal canal, as is the case with Type 1 Chiari Malformations, it can put pressure on the spinal cord. This pressure can potentially lead to permanent damage. During a Cervical Laminectomy, the lamina (roof of the spine) along with the spinous process (the bony protrusion attached to it), are removed, effectively widening the spinal canal and relieving the pressure on the underlying spinal cord and nerves.

Goal of Cervical Laminectomy

Pressure on the spinal cord can cause numerous problems. As the spinal cord and spinal nerve roots are compressed they can cause headaches, shooting pain, weakness, numbness, difficulty walking and deterioration of fine motor skills.

The ultimate goal of cervical laminectomy is to reduce the progression of spinal cord damage by making the spinal canal larger. Although existing symptoms from spinal cord damage cannot always be reversed, pain and numbness are often reduced following surgery. Over time, many patients likewise see improvements in strength. While each situation is unique, roughly 80-90 percent of patients experience at least some symptom relief as a result of the surgery.

How Cervical Laminectomy Is Performed

Cervical Laminectomy is a surgical treatment done under general anesthesia. Once you are fully sedated, your surgeon makes a short incision in the back of your neck. The surrounding muscles are gently separated and held out of the way to allow access to the spine.  An X-ray may be taken at this point to confirm satisfactory positioning.

Next, specialized surgical instruments are used to remove the bony roof of the spine (lamina). The lamina, along with the bony protrusion attached to it, are then carefully removed, allowing the spinal cord and nerves room to decompress. The muscles are restored to their original position, where they will help shield the spinal canal. The incision is then closed using sutures.

Recovery Timeline

As with any major surgery, some pain and discomfort immediately following the procedure is normal. Pain medication is recommended to help manage the soreness, although patients are up and moving about within a few hours of surgery. Following a Cervical Laminectomy, you will be monitored at the hospital. After discharge from the hospital an office visit will be scheduled for clinical followup.

Although light activity (like daily walking) is strongly encouraged, activity and lifting limits are imposed to allow your neck to heal over the next several weeks following surgery.  Sudden or extreme movement of the neck should also be conscientiously avoided. You may also be prescribed a neck brace to wear during this period.  You should avoid driving, sports and other activities that may cause rapid motion of the neck until you have been given the “all clear” by your physician,.

During the initial healing period and throughout the upcoming year, you should experience gradual improvement. Progress on symptoms like numbness and weakness, in particular, may take up to one year to become fully evident.

Why Choose Neurosurgeons of New Jersey

Deciding to undergo surgical treatment for Chiari Malformation can be stressful. Neurosurgeons of New Jersey is committed to making the process as comfortable as possible through an emphasis on communication, cutting-edge technology and patient-focused care. We are one of the largest sub-specialized neurosurgical practices in the tri-state area and are uniquely suited to meet the specific needs of Chiari Malformation patients.

You will meet with surgeons who are focused exclusively on treating these conditions and who have extensive experience in the highly specialized techniques required for success. Throughout your interactions with Neurosurgeons of New Jersey, you can expect to be treated with the kind of care and professionalism that has earned us a reputation as one of the Northeast’s premiere neurosurgery centers.