Twenty-five patients underwent an expansive cervical laminoplasty for nontraumatic cervical spondylosis with myelopathy during the period from June 1990 to November 1994, and all had a minimum of 18 months of follow-up review. The open-door laminoplasty procedure presently reported consisted of the same approach evaluated by Hirabayashi in 1977, except that the authors of this report used three rib allografts to anchor the “open door,” rather than spinous process sutures or autologous bone grafts. Posterior foraminotomies and decompression were performed in patients with clinical radiculopathy and radiographic evidence of foraminal stenosis.
Preoperatively, gait disturbance was present in all patients. All 25 patients (100%) had long-tract signs on presentation. Nondermatomal upper-extremity symptoms (numbness, tingling, weakness, and pain) were quite common in this group of patients. Bowel, bladder, and/or sexual dysfunction was found in 13 (52%) of 25 patients. Preoperative radiographic studies showed a mean midline anteroposterior diameter spinal canal/vertebral body (SC/VB) ratio of 0.623 and a mean compression ratio (sagittal/lateral diameter ratio X 100%) of 37%.
This procedure was quite successful in relieving preoperative symptoms and few complications occurred. Gait disturbance was improved in 21 (84%) of 25 patients and hand numbness and tingling were improved in 13 (87%) of 15 patients. Bowel or bladder function improved in 10 (77%) of 13 patients. Radiculopathy, when present, was alleviated in all four patients after the decompressive procedure. The postoperative SC/VB ratio, as measured by plain lateral radiographs and/or computerized tomography scans, was improved to 0.871, a 38% improvement. In a comparison with the preoperative SC/VB ratio using the two-tailed t-test, alpha was less than 0.001. The compression ratio improved to 63% postoperatively, which yielded an alpha less than 0.005 according to the two-tailed t-test. Only one postoperative complication, an anterior scalene syndrome, was encountered.
Various predictors of surgical outcome based on gait improvement were evaluated. Age greater than 60 years at the time of presentation, duration of symptoms more than 18 months prior to surgery, preoperative bowel or bladder dysfunction, and lower-extremity dysfunction were found to be associated with poorer surgical outcome. Even when these conditions were present, gait improvement was noted in at least 70% of the patients.