Procedure – cervical or thoracic laminectomy
Removal of bone, which forms the back part of the spinal canal (spinous process and lamina) – see ‘The Normal Structure of the Spine’. The procedure is very similar in the cervical and thoracic spine.
Procedure – cervical laminoplasty
In contrast to the laminectomy, the bone, which forms the back part of the spinal canal is not removed but cut on either side and opened like a door. It is hold in place with small plates.
Decompression of spinal cord and nerves mainly for cervical myelopathy but also radiculopathy.
Acute: Bleeding, Infection, cerebrospinal fluid leak, neurological deficit including paralysis, death in the case of high cervical cord injury, instability
Long term: Deformity of the spine in forward position (kyphosis) if several levels are done (laminectomy). This is due to damage of the muscles and tendons holding the neck straight.
Overall, the risks, in particular the very serious risks are small but also depend on the underlying condition.