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Procedure

Posterior Cervical Laminectomy & Fusion

    What is Posterior Cervical Laminectomy and Spinal Fusion?

    Posterior cervical laminectomy and fusion is a spinal procedure used to treat compression of the spine in your neck. After this spinal surgery, you enjoy pain relief and improved mobility.

    The surgery, which involves an approach from the back to your spine, is actually two procedures in one:

    1. The laminectomy procedure decompresses your neck. It involves removing one or more laminae that’s causing the spinal compression on your spinal cord. The lamina is a bony covering over your spinal canal.
    2. The spinal fusion joins segments of your spine to stabilize your spinal column. The fusion part of the surgery immobilizes the section of your spine to reduce pain from movement.

    If you suffer chronic back pain, seek medical attention. The spinal surgeons at Premier Brain & Spine, New Jersey’s top spine and pain center, use advanced diagnostic equipment. With nine locations in New Jersey and one in New York, there’s a facility near you.

    Am I a Candidate for Posterior Cervical Laminectomy & Fusion?

    If you have cervical spine compression, your doctor may recommend posterior cervical laminectomy and spine fusion as an effective treatment. Surgery is rarely the first treatment recommendation, but it’s sometimes the most effective. Compression of the spinal cord causes debilitating symptoms, including spinal stenosis. This narrowing of your spinal column irritates the nerve roots, resulting in neck pain.

    Signs that you’re a candidate for this spinal procedure include:

    • You have persistent pain and stiffness in your neck and accompanying shoulder pain.
    • You experience the symptoms of nerve damage, such as tingling and weakness in your neck and arms.
    • You suffer headaches in the back of your head.

    Neck pain may stop you from working or doing normal daily activities. Severe pain may affect other parts of your body, lowering your quality of life. The spine specialists at Premier Brain & Spine understand that an early diagnosis leads to more effective treatment. So don’t wait for your neck pain to turn chronic or debilitating.

    What’s the Procedure for Posterior Cervical Laminectomy and Fusion?

    This combination procedure starts with a definitive diagnosis to determine the underlying cause of your spinal compression. Your doctor reviews your medical history and performs tests to determine if you can benefit from this procedure.

    If so, the steps follow a specific sequence, including:

    1. Preparation. Before surgery, your doctor advises you to stop taking blood-thinners and smoking for several weeks before and after the procedure.
    2. Sedation. On the day of the surgery, an anesthesiologist puts you under with general anesthesia for enhanced comfort.
    3. Incision. Your surgeon makes an incision on the back of your neck and then moves your neck muscles aside, holding them in place with retractors.
    4. Decompression. The critical part of the surgery involves the removal of the laminae pressing on your spinal cord. Your spine surgeon relies on continuous x-rays to confirm the location of the affected vertebrae. Using specialized tools, the doctor removes the laminae, bone spurs and any tumors or growths pressing on your nerves.
    5. Spinal cord fusion. Spinal fusion is the next phase of the surgery. Your doctor joins the remaining vertebral bones in your neck and places bone graft material to promote the fusion.
    6. Closure. After decompression and spinal fusion, your spinal doctor returns the neck muscles to their original position and closes the incision. A drain tube may be necessary to remove any excess fluid and encourage healing. Using sutures, the surgeon closes the incision.

    This complex procedure has a high success rate when completed by qualified surgeons. By decompressing the spinal cord and fusing the bones, your doctor prevents a recurrence of the problem. Your spinal surgeon at the spine center in NJ or NY uses advanced equipment to enhance precision in the procedure.

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    What Can I Expect After Surgery?

    Your diagnosis determines the extent of the surgery, and that affects your recovery period. Most often, your procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, so you return home the same day to recover.

    After the spinal surgery, your recovery occurs in stages, such as:

    1. Immediately after surgery. You recover on-site under observation until you’re released. You must arrange for someone to drive you home and preferably stay with you for a day or two. You may also need a home care nurse for intermittent care.
    2. Home post-surgery care. At home, follow the doctor’s instructions carefully. Recovery takes about eight to twelve weeks for your bones to heal.
    3. Post-op medications. Your doctor prescribes pain medication to reduce the discomfort caused by swelling and soreness. Antibiotics also reduce the risk of infection on your incision site.
    4. Post-care guidelines. Your doctor advises against smoking, baths, driving and heavy lifting. Rest, keep the incision clean and dry, and eat well to promote faster healing.
    5. Physical therapy. Once you’ve recovered from the procedure, a physical or occupational therapist works with you to regain strength and flexibility in your neck.
    6. Return to work. Two to three weeks after surgery, you can do normal light duties at home. Avoid heavy lifting and other strenuous activities that may cause strain in your neck. At about 12 weeks post-op, your doctor confirms that your bone fusion has progressed enough for you to return to your normal activities.
    7. Results. Expect reduced or eliminated neck pain. Any pain, stiffness or tingling in your hands and legs have disappeared. Look forward to a better overall quality of life.

    Following these guidelines prevents complications and recurring symptoms. If you notice an increase in pain, a high fever or an infection, call your doctor immediately. The spine specialists perform many complex surgeries for a wide range of spinal conditions, including scoliosis, compression fractures and radiculopathy.

    If you’re suffering from severe neck pain, get a diagnosis and cervical spine treatment from a specialist. Contact a spinal specialist at Premier Brain & Spine or visit any of their New Jersey locations at Union, Rutherford, Paterson, Edison, Bayonne, Freehold, Hackensack, West Orange, and West Caldwell or their NY office in Goshen.

    Updated on Dec 1, 2022 by Dr. David Wells-Roth (Neurosurgeon) of Premier Brain & Spine

    Premier Brain & Spine
    10 Parsonage Rd, Suite 208A
    Edison, NJ 08837
    (732) 258-0190