Regis W. Haid, Jr., MD, Spine Surgeon
A narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck area or upper part of the spine is called cervical stenosis. The narrowing places pressure on the spinal cord. Most cases of cervical stenosis occur in patients over the age of 50 and are the result of aging and “wear and tear” on the spine, although the condition is occasionally something the patient is born with.
A large number of patients with cervical stenosis have a history of some kind of injury or trauma to the neck, however this trauma may have occurred many months or even years before the onset of stenosis symptoms.
There are a variety of surgical techniques that can be used to treat this condition. The object of each of these surgical treatments is "decompression". In other words, the surgery widens the spinal canal to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord by removing or trimming whatever is causing the compression.
The most common surgery for cervical stenosis is called a decompressive laminectomy in which the laminae (roof) of the vertebrae are removed, creating more space in the spinal canal for the nerves. If only a portion of the laminae need to be removed, it is called a laminotomy.
Posterior Laminoplasty is a technique that helps to retain spinal stability while also expanding the spinal canal.
If there are any herniated or bulging discs, these may also be removed (this is called a discectomy) to increase canal space. Sometimes the foramen (the area where the nerve roots exit the spinal canal) also need to be enlarged. This procedure is called a foraminotomy.
For those patients who need surgical repair on more than one level or who have significant spinal instability, a cervical spinal fusion may be done in addition to the decompression surgery. This involves taking a small piece of bone (usually from the hip) and grafting it onto the spine.
Spinal hardware such as plates and screws (called instrumentation), are then used to support the spine and provide additional stability. In most cases, Dr. Haid can determine ahead of time if fusion surgery is necessary.
Dr. Haid assesses the use of Minimally Invasive Spine Procedures where ever they may be appropriate. His experience in the area of cervical disease is unexcelled. If you want to learn more about Dr. Haid's contribution to cervical spine surgery, you may wish to visit the Patents and Innovations area of this website.