A laminoplasty is a procedure to take pressure off the spinal cord. If you need surgery in your neck, or cervical spine, you will have an incision on the back of your neck about six inches long. The neurosurgeon lifts the bones up off your spinal cord. Then, titanium mini-plates and bone grafts are used to secure the bone.


Getting Ready for Surgery

Please refer to your “Having Surgery at UW Hospital” book for instructions.


Please start taking a stool softener (docusate with senna) two days before surgery. Take it with at least 8 ounces of water. This will prevent constipation caused by pain medicine. Do not take any fiber or stool softener on the morning of surgery.


If you are having any trouble with urination, please let your provider know. They may want to start a medicine before surgery to help you urinate.

After Surgery

Going Home

You will need to stay 1-2 nights in the hospital. Then, you will need someone to stay with you for at least the first 24-48 hours after you get home. If you live alone, and don’t have anyone to help, you may need go to a rehab or skilled nursing facility.


You will have some neck pain. Before surgery, we will give you medicines to help prevent pain after surgery. After surgery, your pain will be managed with oral medicines. As your pain improves, you will need less medicine. Take all pain pills with food and at least 8 ounces of water. Do not take any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen and Naprosyn, for 6 weeks. These will slow healing. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before you start any new medicine.


  • Do not lift more than 10 pounds (about 1 gallon of milk) until we tell you it is okay

  • No pushing or pulling

  • No strenuous activity

  • Walking is good for you—slowly increase the amount of walking you do

  • You may resume sex after 2 weeks

  • Avoid the sun and tanning beds


Do not drive until after your follow up visit. You cannot drive while taking narcotic pain pills.

Do not drive if you are wearing a collar. You may drive once you can move your head so you can drive safely.


Ask your doctor when you may return to work. You will likely be off 2 – 8 weeks depending on the type of work that you do.

Cervical Collar

You may need to wear a collar after surgery. If your doctor orders a collar we will send you home with one collar that has an extra set of pads.

You must wear your collar even during a shower or while bathing.

The collar will fit snugly, but comfortably, around your neck. This prevents you from bending your chin to your chest and from turning your head side to side.

Preventing Constipation

Take the stool softener twice a day while you are taking narcotic pain pills. If you do not have a bowel movement within two days, take Milk of Magnesia (6 teaspoons, 2-3 times a day) until you have a bowel movement. You may eat prunes or drink prune juice instead of taking Milk of Magnesia. Drink plenty of 8-ounce glasses of water or juice daily so that your body has enough fluids.


You may shower within three days. Please wear the collar while you shower until you no longer need it. Keep your incision clean and dry. When you are in the shower, cover it with plastic wrap taped over it for the first 5 days. After bathing, gently pat dry with a clean towel.

Incision Care

Some redness and swelling around the incision is normal. Proper incision care helps to decrease risk of infection.

  • Leave surgical dressing in place for 5
    days after surgery. Inspect daily to ensure it is clean, dry and secure.

  • After 5 days, the dressing may be changed every other day as needed.

  • If no drainage is present, you can leave it uncovered.

  • Do not use any creams, lotions, ointments or alcohol near or on incision.

Signs of Infection

Once you can remove the dressing, check incision for signs of infection, such as:

  • Redness

  • Swelling

  • Drainage

  • Warmth

Please have someone help you clean the incision daily with mild soap and water. Keep your incision lightly covered with gauze to protect it from rubbing on your collar. If you have stitches, they will be removed in 2-3 weeks at your follow-up visit. If you have dissolvable stitches, your follow-up visit will be in about 4 weeks.

When to Call

  • Increased pain that does not go away with medicine

  • Fever over 100° F for two readings taken 4 hours apart by mouth

  • Signs of infection

Who to Call

Neurosurgery Clinic

Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm
608-263-7502 or 1-800-323-8942

Spine Clinic

Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm
(608) 265-3207

After hours, the number will be answered by the paging operator.

If you are a patient receiving care at UnityPoint – Meriter, Swedish American or a health system outside of UW Health, please use the phone numbers provided in your discharge instructions for any questions or concerns.