Posterior Cervical Laminectomy and Fusion
MEDICAL ANIMATION TRANSCRIPT: If you have a condition in your neck that puts pressure on your spinal cord or spinal nerves, your doctor may recommend a posterior cervical laminectomy and fusion. The spine in your neck, also called the cervical spine, has seven bones called vertebrae. The front part of each vertebra is called the vertebral body, except for the first vertebra. Between most vertebrae is a soft cushion of cartilage called an intervertebral disk. The back part of each vertebra has a curved section called the vertebral arch. Except for the first vertebra, each vertebral arch has a bony projection called the spinous process. On each side of the spinous process is a flat piece of bone called a lamina. The vertebral arch of the vertebra surrounds and protects your spinal cord, a column of nervous tissue connecting your brain to other nerves in your body. Your spinal cord passes through an enclosed space called the vertebral canal, which is formed by the vertebral arches of your vertebrae. Over time, your cervical spine may develop problems, such as a shrinking disk, a herniated or ruptured disk, or bony growths on your vertebrae called bone spurs. These changes can narrow your vertebral canal and put pressure on your spinal cord or the nerves that branch off of it. The pressure can cause neck pain and stiffness, or pain, numbness, and weakness in your arms or hands. Before your procedure, an intravenous line, or IV, will be started. You may be given antibiotics through the IV to decrease your chance of infection. You will be given general anesthesia to make you unconscious and pain-free during the procedure. A breathing tube will be inserted through your mouth and down your throat to help you breathe during the operation. Your surgeon will make an incision on the back of your neck. The laminae of the affected vertebrate will be exposed. The spinous processes and laminae will be removed from the affected vertebrae to relieve the pressure on your spinal cord and nerves. Next, your surgeon will remove the outer layer of bone. Metal rods or plates will be attached to your vertebrae with screws. Your surgeon may use some bone tissue called a bone graft, usually taken from your hip bone. This bone graft material is placed along your vertebrae. These steps are done so your vertebrae can grow together, or fuse. Your surgeon will close your skin incision with sutures, surgical skin glue, or staples. Your neck may be placed in a collar to keep it still while your vertebrae fuse. After your procedure, your breathing tube will be removed, and you will be taken to the recovery area for monitoring. You'll be given pain medication as needed. You may be released from the hospital within two to three days after your procedure. You will wear your neck collar for several weeks while your vertebrae fuse together.