Laminectomy for cervical myelopathy

Spinal Cord. 2003 Jun;41(6):317-27. doi: 10.1038/


Study design: Cervical laminectomy with or without fusion, or laminoplasty, successfully address congenital or acquired stenosis, multilevel spondylosis, ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL), and ossification of the yellow ligament (OYL). To optimize surgical results, however, these procedures should be applied to carefully selected patients.

Objectives: To determine the clinical, neurodiagnostic, appropriate posterior cervical approaches to be employed in patients presenting with MR- and CT-documented multilevel cervical disease. To limit perioperative morbidity, dorsal decompressions with or without fusions should be performed utilizing awake intubation and positioning and continuous intraoperative somatosensory-evoked potential monitoring.

Setting: United States of America.

Methods: The clinical, neurodiagnostic, and varied dorsal decompressive techniques employed to address pathology are reviewed. Techniques, including laminectomy, laminoforaminotomy, and laminoplasty are described. Where preoperative dynamic X-rays document instability, simultaneous fusions employing wiring or lateral mass plate/screw or rod/screw techniques may be employed. Nevertheless, careful patient selection remains one of the most critical factors to operative success as older individuals with prohibitive comorbidities or fixed long-term neurological deficits should not undergo these procedures.

Results: Short- and long-term outcomes following dorsal decompressions with or without fusions vary. Those with myelopathy over 65 years of age often do well in the short-term, but demonstrate greater long-term deterioration. Factors that correlated with greater susceptibility to deterioration include advanced age (>70 years at the time of the first surgery), severe original myelopathy, and recent trauma.

Conclusions: Success rates of laminectomy with or without fusion, or laminoplasty may be successfully employed to address multilevel cervical pathology in a carefully selected population of patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Wires
  • Cervical Vertebrae
  • Decompression, Surgical / methods
  • Humans
  • Laminectomy / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / pathology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / surgery*
  • Spinal Diseases / pathology
  • Spinal Diseases / surgery*
  • Spinal Fusion / methods
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Treatment Outcome