Laminoplasty and laminectomy with fusion are two common procedures for the treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy. Controversy remains regarding the superior surgical treatment.

To compare short-term follow-up of laminoplasty to laminectomy with fusion for the treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy.

Retrospective review comparing all patients undergoing surgical treatment for cervical spondylotic myelopathy by a single surgeon.

All patients undergoing laminoplasty or laminectomy with fusion by a single surgeon over a 5-year period (2007-2011).

Cervical alignment and range of motion on pre- and post-operative radiographs and clinical outcome measures including Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scores, neck disability index (NDI), short form-12 mental (SF-12M) and physical (SF-12P) composite scores and visual analog pain scores for neck (VAS-N) and arm (VAS-A).

Patients undergoing laminoplasty or laminectomy with fusion by a single surgeon were reviewed. Cohorts of 41 laminoplasty patients and 31 laminectomy with fusion patients were selected based on strict criteria. The cohorts were well matched based on pre-operative clinical scores, radiographic measurements, and demographics. The average follow-up was 19.2 months for laminoplasty and 18.2 months for laminectomy with fusion. Evaluated outcomes included Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) score, neck disability index (NDI), short form-12 (SF-12), visual analog pain scores (VAS), cervical sagittal alignment, cervical range of motion, length of stay, cost and complications.

The improvement in JOA, SF-12 and VAS scores was similar in the two cohorts after surgery. There was no significant change in cervical sagittal alignment in either cohort. Range-of-motion decreased in both cohorts, but to a greater degree after laminectomy with fusion. C5 nerve root palsy and infection were the most common complications in both cohorts. Laminectomy with fusion was associated with a higher rate of C5 nerve root palsy and overall complications. The average hospital length of stay and cost were significantly less with laminoplasty.

This study provides evidence that laminoplasty may be superior to laminectomy with fusion in preserving cervical range of motion, reducing hospital stay and minimizing cost. However, the significance of these differences remains unclear, as laminoplasty clinical outcome scores were generally comparable to laminectomy with fusion.