Laminoplasty versus laminectomy and fusion for cervical spondylotic myelopathy: a cost analysis

Spine J. 2020 Nov;20(11):1770-1775. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2020.07.012. Epub 2020 Jul 28.


Background context: Laminectomy with fusion (LF) and laminoplasty (LP) are commonly used to treat cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM). The decision regarding which procedure to perform is largely a matter of surgeon's preference, while financial implications are rarely considered.

Purpose: We aimed to better understand the financial considerations of LF compared to LP in the treatment of CSM.

Study design: Retrospective comparative study.

Patient sample: Adult patients, 18 years of age or older, who had undergone LF or LP for CSM from 2017 to 2019 at 2 large academic centers were included. Patients who had undergone previous cervical spine surgery or procedures that extended above C2 or below T2 were excluded.

Outcome measures: The primary outcome was defined as the total cost of the procedure, which was calculated as the sum of the implant and non-implant supply costs.

Methods: Patient demographics, surgical parameters, including estimated blood loss and operative time, and length of stay were collected. Operating room material - both implant and non-implant - cost data was also obtained. Variables were analyzed individually as well as after adjustment based on the number of operative levels involved. Statistical analysis was performed using either Student t test with unequal variance or Wilcoxon rank sum test for continuous variables and chi-squared analysis for categorical variables.

Results: Two hundred fifty patients were identified who met inclusion criteria. There was no statistical difference in the mean age at time of surgery (p=.25), gender distribution (p=.33), or re-operation rate between the LF and LP groups (p=.39). Overall, operative time was similar between the LF (165.7 ± 61.9 min) and LP (173.8 ± 58.2 min) groups (p=.29), but the LP cohort had a shorter length of stay at 3.8 ± 2.7 days compared to the LF cohort at 4.8 ± 3.7 days. Implant costs in the LF group were significantly more at $6,204.94 ± $1426.41 compared to LP implant costs at $1994.39 ± $643.09. Mean total costs of LP were significantly less at $2,859.08 ± $784.19 compared to LF total costs of $6,983.16 ± $1,589.17. Furthermore, when adjusted for the number of operative levels, LP remained significantly less costly at $766.12 ± $213.64 per level while LF cost $1,789.05 ± $486.66 per operative level. Additional subgroup analysis limiting the cohorts to patients with either three or four involved vertebral levels demonstrated nearly identical cost savings with LP as compared to LF.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that LF is on average at least 2.4 times the total operative supply cost of LP and at least 2.3 times the operative supply cost of LP when adjusted for the number of operative levels. In patients deemed appropriate for either LP or LF, these data may be incorporated into decision-making for the treatment of CSM.

Keywords: Cervical spondylotic myelopathy; Cost; Fusion; Implant; Laminectomy; Laminoplasty.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cervical Vertebrae / surgery
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Humans
  • Laminectomy
  • Laminoplasty* / adverse effects
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Cord Diseases* / surgery
  • Spinal Fusion* / adverse effects
  • Spondylosis* / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome