A laminoplasty is a surgical procedure designed to relieve the nerve pressure and pain caused by spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on the spinal nerves and causes pain throughout the spine and extremities. It can develop as a result of certain genetic abnormalities, disease processes or simply due to natural aging. During a laminoplasty, the lamina, a small section of bone that covers the back of the spinal cord, is cut through completely on one side and partially on the other, enabling it to swing open like a door. It is then held open with titanium spacers and plates, increasing the amount of room around the spinal cord and decreasing compression on the nerves.
Spinal stenosis can occur anywhere in the spinal column, in the cervical (neck), thoracic (chest), or lumbar (low back) regions. Generally, the symptoms of spinal stenosis worsen over time, and conservative treatments. such as medication and physical therapy become less effective in treating the condition. When this occurs, a laminoplasty may become necessary. The procedure can provide relief from the typical symptoms of spinal stenosis, such as back pain and numbness or weakness in one or both arms or legs.
A laminoplasty can be performed on the any of the three regions of the spine, depending on where the patient is experiencing the most intense symptoms. The operation may be performed from the back or the front of the body, depending on the particulars of the patient's condition. If a bone spur is present nearer to the anterior of the body, for example, the surgeon may enter the body from the front.
A laminoplasty is sometimes performed using microsurgery which is less invasive than traditional methods, but which requires both specialized training and specialized operating equipment. A laminoplasty is a less intrusive alternative to another operation for stenosis called a laminectomy. Unlike a laminectomy, a laminoplasty does not remove the lamina and so manages to preserve spinal stability. This is an advantage because it helps the patient to maintain mobility and diminishes the need for future procedures to restabilize the spine.
After any type of laminoplasty, patients need to undergo rehabilitative therapy to build up strength and flexibility in the area operated upon. Recovery times vary depending on the age and medical condition of the patient. Patients are restricted from activities that require bending or lifting for several weeks after surgery. Most can resume normal activities within 2 to 6 weeks.