Despite extensive clinical experience with laminoplasty, the efficacy of the procedure and its advantages over laminectomy remain unclear. Specific clinical elements, such as incidence or progression of kyphosis, incidence of axial neck pain, postoperative cervical range of motion, and incidence of postoperative C-5 palsies, are of concern. The authors sought to comprehensively review the laminoplasty literature over the past 10 years while focusing on these clinical elements.
The authors conducted a literature search of articles in the Medline database published between 2003 and 2013, in which the terms “laminoplasty,” “laminectomy,” and “posterior cervical spine procedures” were used as key words. Included was every single case series in which patient outcomes after a laminoplasty procedure were reported. Excluded were studies that did not report on at least one of the above-mentioned items.
A total of 103 studies, the results of which contained at least 1 of the prespecified outcome variables, were identified. These studies reported 130 patient groups comprising 8949 patients. There were 3 prospective randomized studies, 1 prospective nonrandomized alternating study, 15 prospective nonrandomized data collections, and 84 retrospective reviews. The review revealed a trend for the use of miniplates or hydroxyapatite spacers on the open side in Hirabayashi-type laminoplasty or on the open side in a Kurokawa-type laminoplasty. Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scoring was reported most commonly; in the 4949 patients for whom a JOA score was reported, there was improvement from a mean (± SD) score of 9.91 (± 1.65) to a score of 13.68 (± 1.05) after a mean follow-up of 44.18 months (± 35.1 months). The mean preoperative and postoperative C2–7 angles (available for 2470 patients) remained stable from 14.17° (± 0.19°) to 13.98° (± 0.19°) of lordosis (average follow-up 39 months). The authors found significantly decreased kyphosis when muscle/posterior element–sparing techniques were used (p = 0.02). The use of hardware in the form of hydroxyapatite spacers or miniplates did not influence the progression of deformity (p = 0.889). An overall mean (calculated from 2390 patients) of 47.3% loss of range of motion was reported. For the studies that used a visual analog scale score (totaling 986 patients), the mean (cohort size–adjusted) postoperative pain level at a mean follow-up of 29 months was 2.78. For the studies that used percentages of patients who complained of postoperative axial neck pain (totaling 1249 patients), the mean patient number–adjusted percentage was 30% at a mean follow-up of 51 months. The authors found that 16% of the studies that were published in the last 10 years reported a C-5 palsy rate of more than 10% (534 patients), 41% of the studies reported a rate of 5%–10% (n = 1006), 23% of the studies reported a rate of 1%–5% (n = 857), and 12.5% reported a rate of 0% (n = 168).
Laminoplasty remains a valid option for decompression of the spinal cord. An understanding of the importance of the muscle-ligament complex, plus the introduction of hardware, has led to progress in this type of surgery. Reporting of outcome metrics remains variable, which makes comparisons among the techniques difficult.