CLAIMS

What is claimed is: 

1. A method of treating a patient's spinal column, the patient having a bony anatomy including a spinal column comprising a plurality of operatively interconnected vertebrae, each of the plurality of vertebrae being positioned at a certain level in the spinal column and being separated from an adjacent one of the plurality of operatively interconnected vertebrae by an interlaminar space or spacing located therebetween, the method comprising: a. positioning a spinal stabilization system along the patient's spinal column, the spinal stabilization system including: a first interlaminar member adapted to be positioned between a first one of the plurality of vertebrae and a second one of the plurality of vertebrae in the spinal column; the first interlaminar member including a U-shaped body having a midsection, two spaced apart end portions, and a pair of juxtaposed legs extending substantially parallel to one another from one of the respective ends in a direction generally outwardly away from the spinal column and spaced apart a preselected distance, d; a support structure operatively connected to the first interlaminar member, the support structure including a T-shaped frame member operatively connected to the first interlaminar member and extending generally downwardly therefrom in a direction substantially parallel to the spinal column, the T-shaped frame member including an elongate body having first and second end portions, the first end portion being operatively connected to the first interlaminar member, and an elongate cross member having first and second end portions and a midpoint, the elongate cross member being operatively connected approximately at the midpoint to the second end portion of the elongate body; a pair of support members secured to the first interlaminar member extending upwardly therefrom in a direction substantially parallel to one another; and a second interlaminar member, the second interlaminar member being operatively connected to the pair of support members and adapted to be positioned between the second one of the plurality of vertebrae and a third one of the plurality of vertebrae positioned adjacent to the second one of the plurality of vertebrae in the spinal column; b. inserting the first interlaminar member into the spacing between the first one and the second one of the plurality of operatively interconnected vertebrae; c. determining the spacing between the second and the third one of the plurality of operatively interconnected vertebrae; d. selectively sizing the second interlaminar member in response to the spacing between the second and the third one of the plurality of operatively interconnected vertebrae whereby motion therebetween may be selectively controlled; e. adjustably positioning the second interlaminar member on the pair of support members extending upwardly from the first interlaminar member whereby the second interlaminar member is aligned with the spacing between the second and the third one of the plurality of operatively interconnected vertebrae; f. inserting the second interlaminar member into the spacing between the second one and the third one of the plurality of operatively interconnected vertebrae; g. adjusting and aligning the spinal stabilization system in relation to the patient's bony anatomy; and h. securing the spinal stabilization structure to the patient's spinal column. 

2. The method of claim 1, further comprising, prior to step b.: a. determining the spacing between the first and the second one of the plurality of operatively interconnected vertebrae; and, b. selectively sizing the first interlaminar member in response to the spacing between the first and the second one of the plurality of operatively interconnected vertebrae whereby motion therebetween may be selectively controlled. 

3. The method of claim 2 wherein the step of selectively sizing the first interlaminar member includes selecting the distance d between the pair of juxtaposed legs so that the first interlaminar member is sized to be a tight fit in the spacing between the first one and the second one of the plurality of operatively interconnected vertebrae, whereby the first one and the second one of the plurality of operatively interconnected vertebrae are fused. 

4. The method of claim 2 wherein the step of adjusting and aligning the spinal stabilization system includes the step of positioning the first interlaminar member in the spacing between the first one and the second one of the plurality of operatively interconnected vertebrae whereby a top surface of one of the pair of juxtaposed legs is in contact with a surface of a spinous process of the second vertebra. 

5. The method of claim 3 wherein the U-shaped body is structured and arranged to have preselected elastic properties and wherein the step of selectively sizing the first interlaminar member further includes the step of selecting the elastic properties of the U-shaped body such that the U-shaped body serves as a spring or as a shock absorber in the spacing between the first one and the second one of the plurality of operatively interconnected vertebrae. 

6. The method of claim 1 wherein an uppermost leg of the pair of juxtaposed legs of the U-shaped body is longer than a lower leg of the pair of juxtaposed legs, thereby forming a handle structured and arranged to be used to insert and position the spinal stabilization system, the step of inserting the first interlaminar member into the spacing between the first one and the second one of the plurality of operatively interconnected vertebrae further including the step of using the handle to insert and position the system during surgery. 

7. The method of claim 1 wherein the step of adjustably positioning the second interlaminar member on the pair of support members extending upwardly from the first interlaminar member further includes the step positioning the second interlaminar member on the pair of support members via an approach that is substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the pair of support members. 

8. The method of claim 1 wherein the step of adjusting and aligning the spinal stabilization system in relation to the patient's bony anatomy further includes selectively adjusting a position of the second interlaminar member relative to a position of the first interlaminar member. 

9. The method of claim 1 wherein the step of inserting the second interlaminar member into the spacing between the second one and the third one of the plurality of operatively interconnected vertebrae further includes selectively positioning the second interlaminar member intermediate the second one of the plurality of vertebrae and third one of the plurality of vertebrae such that i) a substantial gap is formed between the second interlaminar member and a surface of a spinous process of the second one of the plurality of vertebrae and ii) the second interlaminar member is positioned immediately adjacent a surface of a spinous process of the third one of the plurality of vertebrae thereby providing a preselected amount of flexion of the vertebra on a forward direction and limiting extension of the vertebra in a rearward direction. 

10. The method of claim 8 wherein the step of adjusting and aligning the spinal stabilization system further includes selectively positioning the second interlaminar member intermediate the second one of the plurality of vertebrae and third one of the plurality of vertebrae such that i) a substantial gap is formed between the second interlaminar member and a surface of a spinous process of the second one of the plurality of vertebrae and ii) the second interlaminar member is positioned immediately adjacent a surface of a spinous process of the third one of the plurality of vertebrae thereby providing a preselected amount of flexion of the vertebra on a forward direction and limiting extension of the vertebra in a rearward direction. 

11. The method of claim 1 wherein the first and second end portions of the elongate cross member are each adapted to receive and adjustably secure an elongate support member therein, the method further including the step of inserting an elongate support member in each of the first and second ends of the elongate cross member respectively. 

12. The method of claim 11 wherein each of the elongate support members includes an upper end, a lower end and a length extending therebetween, each elongate support member being structured and arranged to slideably receive a securing device thereon, the method further including positioning a securing device along the respective first and second lengths of each of the elongate support members. 

13. The method of claim 12 wherein each of the securing devices is adapted to receive a pedicle screw therein, each pedicle screw being adapted to be secured to one of the plurality of operatively interconnected vertebrae, the method including the step of positioning a pedicle screw in each of the securing devices. 

14. The method of claim 13 further including the step of securing each of the pedicle screws to one of the plurality of vertebrae of the patient's spinal column. 

15. The method of claim 14 including the step of readjusting and realigning the spinal stabilization system in relation to the patient's bony anatomy. 

16. The method of claim 15 further including the step of securing each of the pedicle screws in the securing device in which it is positioned. 

17. The method of claim 15 further including the step of selectively lengthening at least one of the elongate support members whereby a stabilizing effect of the spinal stabilization system is extended to multiple levels in the spinal column. 

18. The method of claim 17 further including the step of slideably positioning multiple pedicle screws on the at least one of the elongate support members. 

19. The method of claim 1, wherein the U-shaped body comprises a protuberance at a location at or near a first end portion comprising the two spaced apart end portions of the U-shaped body, the protuberance extending away from the U-shaped body in a particular direction such that when positioned up to the spinal column the protuberance abuts a lamina of the second vertebra. 

20. The method of claim 7, wherein the second interlaminar member comprises a U-shaped body.