SpineUniverse Case Study Library

Post-laminectomy Cervical Kyphosis


The patient is a 58-year-old male who presented complaining of severe neck pain. He had mild bilateral arm pain too.


The patient is neurologically intact.

Prior Treatment

Previously, the patient had a C3-C6 laminectomy.

To address his current pain, he has tried conservative therapy, but he has not found relief.


Figures 1, 2, and 3 demonstrate significant post-laminectomy kyphosis.

cervical lateral radiograph in neutral positionFigure 1: Lateral radiograph in neutral position.

cervical lateral radiograph in flexed positionFigure 2: Lateral radiograph in flexed position.

cervical lateral radiograph in extended positionFigure 3: Lateral radiograph in extended position.

sagittal MRI demonstrates cervical kyphosis with spinal cord compression at C3Figure 4: Sagittal MRI demonstrating cervical kyphosis with spinal cord compression at C3.


Post-laminectomy kyphosis with spinal cord compression at C2-C3.

Suggest Treatment

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Selected Treatment

The patient had a 2-stage surgery. The first procedure was an anterior multi-level discectomy to correct the deformity. This was achieved by segmental distraction at four different disc space levels. The patient's head and neck were also repositioned on the operating room table following the discectomies. Trapezoidal-shaped bone grafts were placed into each disc space to help maintain the correction. Anterior fixation was inserted from C3-C7.

The anterior approach was selected as the initial procedure because the pre-operative images demonstrated the posterior facet joints to be mobile. If the facets were found to be ankylosed and non-mobile, an initial posterior approach to perform facet osteotomies would have been preferable.

Following completion of the anterior portion of the procedure, the patient underwent a posterior fixation and fusion procedure from C2 to T1 in order to re-establish his posterior tension band and to provide further support to the deformity correction. The inferior margin of the C2 lamina was removed because of persistent epidural compression at that level.

Intra-operative lateral radiograph (Fig. 5) prior to multi-level discectomies and distraction.

intra-operative lateral radiograph prior to multi-level cervical discectomies and distractionFigure 5

Intra-operative lateral radiograph (Fig. 6) following multi-level discectomies and distraction. This demonstrates significant correction of kyphosis.

Intra-operative lateral radiograph following multi-level discectomies and distraction.  This demonstrates significant correction.Figure 6


Immediate post-operative lateral radiograph (Fig. 7) demonstrating C3-C7 anterior fixation and fusion and posterior C2-T1 fixation and fusion.

postop lateral x-ray, C3-C7 anterior fixation, fusion, posterior C2-T1 fixation and fusionFigure 7

immediate postop AP x-rayFigure 8: Immediate post-operative AP radiograph

The patient reported significant pain improvement following surgery.  He continues to do well 4 years postoperatively.

Case Discussion

This case demonstrates significant kyphosis and should be addressed primarily anteriorly, with multiple discectomies and fusion (or, if needed, corpectomy), combined with plating C3-C7. I would do posterior fixation / fusion. However, I would not go to C2 as there is no motion on flexion at C2-C3, and thus I do not feel it necessary to stabilize this level. I would prefer to maintain the patient's motion at this level.

Community Case Discussion (1 comment)

SpineUniverse invites spine professionals to share their thoughts on this case.

I agree with the anterior approach followed by the posterior one, but do not agree entirely on the execution. I believe that the anterior osteophytes could have undergone further "carpentry", and the interbody grafts are a few mm too large, as seen in the facet distraction (on lat-xray). I would have used slightly lordotic grafts, to aid in regaining some lordosis. The cervical plate could also aid in regaining some lordosis. Some surgeons use bicortical screws, which could be considered in this case. On the other hand, I completely agree that the posterior instrumentation should be from C2 to T2. There could be a higher risk of hardware failure with long constructs, specially with previous laminectomies.


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