Cervical laminoplasty, Dr. Gill, and my mom…

Please click on the My Mom’s Neck link at the top of the page for all posts/updates on my mom’s surgery and recovery.


My mom is scheduled for a C3-C7 Laminoplasty with a C3-C4 fusion with Dr. Gill on September 5th.

MRI image of Cervical Stenosis

This is a side view MRI of severe cervical stenosis and spinal cord compression (note the brighter signal in the spinal cord at the arrow).

Over the past year (in retrospect) she has been loosing strength and feeling in her hands, arms and feet. The symptoms have gotten progressively worse over the past couple of months, including difficulty with balance, tingling and numbness in her hands, and difficulty with fine motor skills (such as picking up coins or working zippers). After seeing Dr. Randy Viola first (her hand surgeon) she was referred to Dr. Sonny Gill for diagnosis and treatment. We looked at her MRI and X-Rays, and immediately agreed with Dr. Gill and scheduled surgery. She was diagnosed with central cervical stenosis (or narrowing of the vertebral column) with resulting Myelopathy.

Although the picture to the right is not my mom’s neck, it does show how the stenosis pushes in on the spinal column. In my mom’s MRI, it shows similar narrowing at multiple locations. The picture on the right, is of a healthy cervical spine.

Image of a healthy Cervical Spine

This is a MRI side (sagittal) view of the cervical spine. It demonstrates good disc spaces, a normal curve (lordosis), plenty of room for the spinal cord and good alignment of the facets.

Due to bone spurs (mostly genetic in nature) and some instability throughout her cervical spine (due both to genetics and various trauma over the years), her spinal column is being constricted by her cervical vertebrae. There is also some slipping at the C3-C4 level, resulting in additional pressure on her nerves. The pressure on her spinal column has caused some Myelopathy, or damage to the spinal cord. The surgery will release some of the pressure on the spinal cord, and provide stability in the spine. This should help to alleviate the symptoms, and prevent further degeneration of the spinal cord. Since there is currently no way to regenerate nerves, they cannot promise that all the feeling and strength will return. However, without the surgery it is very likely that the degeneration will continue, and the symptoms would worsen.

She will be spending one or two nights at the surgery center in Frisco, Colorado, and then headed home. Looking at the general recovery guidelines, she will be wearing a soft neck collar for about 3 weeks, and starting PT at Howard Head at about 2 weeks post-surgery. It is anticipated that she should be able to go back to work at the Ski Museum in late November, and that she should be able to ski this spring.


Please feel free to post messages for my mom here,
or send them to her email or Facebook page.
I will be posting updates following the surgery, and about her ongoing recovery.
We all anticipate great results from this surgery
and expect a speedy and full recovery.


The links included in the body of this post are from Dr. Gill’s website.
Another resource for information is neckandback.com, which is from Dr. Corenman (also with the Steadman Clinic – and the surgeon who did my dad’s lumbar fusion).


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  • Melissa Kirr
    October 2, 2010

    Best of Luck Cathy/Mom :) I will be thinking of you this week. I will have to come visit unless you and Jen want to spend a lazy day in Leadville! Love Melissa

    • jenifer
      October 4, 2010

      We would love to have you, Clara & Tilly come by anytime…..and to come visit you in Leadville too!!

  • Kathy Rucki
    October 3, 2010

    Cathy, I sent an email to your email address, just to say, wow, I understand what you’re going through and if you need ANYTHING, please let me know.

    Lots of love coming your way.

    Kathy Rucki

    • jenifer
      October 4, 2010

      Kathi– Thank you so much for sending my mom a message & for your offer of help….I will certainly let you know!
      I really appreciate having you as a neighbor, it is wonderful to know that you are there!

  • Stacey Anderson
    October 4, 2010

    Good Luck With Everything, Cathy. We will miss you at the Musuem. To your health and speedy recovery

    • jenifer
      October 4, 2010

      Thank you so much for your caring thoughts, I will certainly pass them along.

  • Sue & Al
    October 5, 2010

    Cathy, we re thinking of you this morn. Best of luck. We will keep in touch. if you need anything at all, let us know. good luck, Al & Sue

  • Diane
    October 6, 2010

    Atta Girl!! Cathy. So glad to hear you are doing well. Sending you all the warm fuzzies.
    Love you Diane

  • eastlandgrl
    October 18, 2010

    interesting, thanks

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