Mr Rodney Laing

Consultant Neurosurgeon

Mr Laing provides a wealth of experience, performing a variety of surgical procedures aiming to relieve pain and disability in patients with spinal problems including

  • Low back pain and Sciatica
  • Arm and neck pain
  • Cervical Disc Prolapse
  • Cervical Myelopathy
  • Lumbar Disc Prolapse
  • Minimally invasive spinal surgery
  • Spinal Tumours
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Syringomyelia and Chiari Malformations

Mr Laing offers minimally invasive surgical techniques including

  • Lumbar Discectomy
  • Lumbar Decompression
  • Cervical Foraminotomy

Other surgical Procedures:

  • Posterior Cervical Decompression
  • Posterior Lumbar Instrumented Fusion
  • Spinal Fixation and reconstruction for Tumour / Trauma
  • Surgery for intradural Pathology
  • Foramen Magnum Decompression

For more information about Mr Laing's practice at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital, or to make an appointment, telephone 01223 266990 or visit the website

Minimally invasive Lumbar Discectomy

A lumbar disc prolapse typically presents with a combination of back and leg pain.  Investigation is with an MRI scan and this usually shows a disc prolapse pressing on one of the nerves which travels down to the leg.  Most lumbar disc prolapses heal naturally and in the vast majority of people the leg and back pain will get better as time passes.  Management of the condition is  to control pain in the expectation that the disc prolapse will gradually get smaller so relieving the pressure on the nerve.

Three months after the onset of symptoms up to fifty per cent of people with a lumbar disc prolapse will have experienced significant improvement or even resolution of their leg pain.  The aim of surgical treatment is to allow patients to get better more quickly and reliably or to allow recovery in the small group of patients who do not recover naturally.

Minimally invasive Lumbar Discectomy is a very safe operation and the operation is very successful in relieving leg pain.  During the operation the disc prolapse is approached via a 2cm incision in the skin over the lumbar spine.  Dilators are used to create a pathway through the posterior spinal muscles which allows placement of a 18mm tubular retractor on the back of the bony spinal canal.  A window is created to allow access into the spinal canal and the disc prolapse is removed, relieving the pressure on the nerve.  Ninety-five per cent of patients Mr Laing operates on state that they are pleased with the results of their operation because there has been a significant reduction or resolution of their leg pain.  The effect on back pain is less certain but patients usually gain relief from their back pain as well as their leg pain. About 5% of patients are disappointed with the outcome of surgery because they have persisting leg pain or back pain.

The risks of surgery are very low with a less than 1% risk of any neurological complications or infection.

Five patients in every 100 will have a further lumbar disc prolapse either at the operated level or an adjacent level in the five years following surgery.

If you decide to have surgical treatment, and surgical treatment is appropriate, you will be admitted to the Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital on the day of surgery; most patients get out of bed two to three hours after the operation and most go home the same day.

Minimally invasive Lumbar Decompression for Lumbar Canal Stenosis

Lumbar canal stenosis (narrowing of the lumbar spinal canal with pressure on the nerves) usually presents with a combination of low back symptoms, leg symptoms and difficulty walking. The diagnosis is confirmed with an MRI scan which will reveal narrowing of the lumbar canal which occurs most often at the L4/5 and L3/4 levels. In most patients with significant stenosis symptoms are likely to get worse as time goes by, although occasionally symptoms can improve spontaneously.  The risk of the canal narrowing progressing to cause paralysis of legs, bladder and bowel is very low.

Once the diagnosis has been confirmed the only effective and proven treatment is surgical decompression.  Minimally invasive decompression is safe and effective. About 85% of patients are pleased with the results of surgery with less or no pain in their legs and improved walking following decompression. 

The risks of surgery are very low with a less than 1% risk of any neurological complications or infection.

Patients are admitted on the day of surgery and most patients get out of bed two to three hours after the operation and go home the same day or after an overnight stay if there is no one at home.

If you decide to have surgical treatment, and surgical treatment is appropriate, you will be admitted to the Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital on the day of surgery; most patients get out of bed two to three hours after the operation and most go home the same day.

Anterior Cervical Discectomy for Spondylotic Radiculopathy (arm pain)

Patients can develop neck and arm pain due to wear and tear changes in the discs, joints and ligaments in the neck.  Sometimes these changes can cause pressure on a nerve as it passes from the neck into the arm.  Most people with neck and arm pain caused by a disc prolapse will get better as time goes by because the disc gradually gets smaller. Surgery can be helpful when pain remains severe and debilitating and in such cases the aim of surgery is to provide a more rapid resolution of symptoms.  The key component of the operation is to relieve pressure on the cervical nerve root.  The nerve can be approached from the front (anterior cervical decompression) or from the back (cervical foraminotomy).

Overall more than 90% of the people I operate on for a cervical disc prolapse causing arm pain can expect their pain to be substantially improved.  The neck pain that occurs in combination with the arm pain will also be relieved.  The risks of surgery are very low with a less than 1% risk of any neurological complications or infection. Following anterior surgery the risk of a hoarse voice is 1% and some people notice a minor disturbance of swallowing but these symptoms usually improve rapidly.  If you decide to have surgical treatment, and surgical treatment is appropriate, you will be admitted to the Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital on the day of surgery. Most patients get out of bed two to three hours after the operation and most go home the same day or after an overnight stay if there is no one at home.

Anterior Cervical Decompression or Cervical Laminectomy for Spondylotic Myelopathy (spinal cord compression)

Most people with established cervical spondylotic myelopathy, wear and tear changes in the neck resulting in pressure on the spinal cord, will develop progressive neurological symptoms as time goes by.  Typically these comprise numb clumsy hands and difficulty walking with impaired balance.  Progression of symptoms is often stepwise and there may be periods when symptoms do not change.  Occasionally, for example following a fall, severe weakness can occur which may be irreversible.  Some patients with spondylotic myelopathy improve spontaneously without surgical treatment but this is rare.

Following surgery about 65% of patients can expect improvement in their quality of life which may be substantial or minor.  In 30% of patients the progression of symptoms is halted but 5% continue to decline, albeit at a slower rate, despite adequate surgery.  The risks of surgery are very low with a less than 5% risk of any neurological complications or infection.  Following anterior surgery the risk of a hoarse voice is 1% and some people notice a minor disturbance of swallowing but these symptoms usually improve rapidly.  If you decide to have surgical treatment, and surgical treatment is appropriate, you will be admitted to the Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital on the day of surgery, most patients get out of bed two to three hours after the operation and most go home the same day or after an overnight stay if there is no one at home.

Surgical treatment for Symptomatic Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is a condition of the spine in which one vertebral body is translated forwards over the vertebral body below.  This condition is found in about 5% of the population and is frequently asymptomatic.  Some people develop a spondylolisthesis early in life and this is often associated with a defect in part of the L5 vertebra known as the pars inter-articularis.  In others the spondylolisthesis develops later in life.  Nerve roots emerge between adjacent vertebrae through a space called the foramen.  In symptomatic spondylolisthesis the foramen is narrowed (stenosis) and the exiting nerve root can become compressed.  This causes a combination of leg and back pain and can be diagnosed with an MRI scan.  Once a nerve root has become compressed in the exiting foramen the chance of spontaneous (natural) resolution of symptoms is small and it is likely that as time goes by symptoms will get worse.  Under these circumstances I offer surgical treatment.  The main aim of the operation is to enlarge the space for the exiting nerve roots, which relieves pressure and reduces pain.  This is achieved by placing screws into the adjacent vertebral bodies and distracting these to enlarge the foramen. Sometimes I insert a cage into the disc space to help enlarge the foramen. By removing bone, ligament and disc material I undertake a decompression of the nerve root foramina.  Overall there is a 90% chance of a good outcome following this type of surgery with significant relief of leg pain and back pain and substantial improvement in ability to walk and exercise.

The risks of surgery are very low with a less than 1% risk of any neurological complications or infection.

Patients are admitted on the day of surgery and most patients get out of bed two to three hours after the operation and go home the next day or the day after that if there is no one at home.

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Skeleton seen from behind showing spinal muscles

Cervical Foraminotomy

Minimally invasive lumbar discectomy

Cervical Laminectomy

Laminoplasty

Tumour in spinal cord

Cervical disc prolapse



Thoracic disc prolapse

MRI scan shows disc prolapse with compression of spinal cord

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01223 266990

info@spirecambridge.com