Laminoplasty is a surgical technique for the cervical spine, which gives more room to the spinal cord in the neck when it is compressed by disc material, bone spurs, or ligaments.
Narrowing of the spinal canal (stenosis) is usually either congenital (from birth) or degenerative (arising as a result of aging). A laminoplasty is not particularly effective at treating neck pain; however, it is extremely effective at treating spinal stenosis and its symptoms of weakness and numbness in the arms and shoulders. Laminoplasty restores room for the spinal cord while preserving as many normal structures as possible.
For a laminoplasty procedure, an incision is made in the back of the neck and the muscles are carefully moved away from the spine. Essentially, the lamina or bone on the back of the neck is gently cut, removed, and repositioned further away from the spinal cord. Small titanium plates stabilize the bone in its new position while leaving all of the connecting ligaments intact. There is typically some soreness after the operation that can be treated with medications and physical therapy, but the spinal stenosis itself is essentially cured the moment the operation is complete.
Brian R. Subach, MD, FACS
Virginia Spine Institute