Cervical decompressive laminectomy is a common procedure for addressing multilevel cervical spine pathology. The most common reasons for performing simultaneous posterior cervical fusion include the prevention of progressive postlaminectomy kyphotic deformity or other types of instability which can contribute to late neurological deterioration.

The medical literature (Pub Med with MeSH) concerning cervical laminectomy, posterior cervical fusion, and complications of laminectomy/fusion was reviewed. Additionally, references from the articles were queried to find additional literature.

Multiple studies concluded that cervical laminectomy versus laminectomy and fusion produced similar short-term postoperative outcomes. Careful patient selection was warranted to minimize the complications associated with cervical laminectomy alone; these included postoperative kyphosis (6-46%) and late deterioration (10-37%). The addition of a posterior cervical fusion was associated with relatively low complication rates, and avoided the evolution of late deformity or delayed neurological deterioration.

Although the short-term results of cervical laminectomy versus laminectomy and fusion are similar, there appear to be more complications associated with performing laminectomy alone over the long term. Here, we reviewed the pros and cons of posterior cervical decompression alone versus decompression with fusion/instrumentation to treat cervical pathology, highlighting the complications associated with each surgical alternative.