Cervical Fusion

Many neck spine disorders require surgical intervention to relieve pain. Anterior cervical fusion is a neurological procedure performed to provide relief of pressure on the spinal cord or one or more nerve roots. Find out more about the procedure here. 

The neck holds the upper part of your spine and is part of a long, flexible column known as the spinal column. There are 24 connected bones (or vertebrae) that comprise this column. The seven bones in the neck are known as the cervical spine. Each vertebra is separated by a cushion called an intervertebral disc. The outer ring of the disc is the annulus and the nucleus is the spongy center. The annulus acts as a gasket with the purpose of keeping the nucleus moist. Due to their soft, gelatinous centers, the intervertebral discs serve as shock absorbers, preventing the rubbing of onevertebra against another. These cushions also allow flexibility of the cervical spine so that the head can be turned freely.

The spinal canal houses the nerve bundles and spinal cord. The cord is bathed in cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF. This fluid circulates through the spine and brain, and is covered by several protective membranes. At each level, or building block of bone, a pair of spinal nerves exits-one to the left, and one to the right, through a small opening called a foramen. These nerves relay messages to and from the brain, allowing for movement of our bodies and our ability to feel sensations. The nerves that exit through the cervical spine affect the neck, arms, shoulders, and hands. In addition, ligaments and muscles are attached to vertebrae and support nerves and spinal cord.

Many neck spine disorders require surgical intervention to relieve pain. One basic factor associated with most spinal disorders is dehydrated discs. As we get older, their gelatin-like centers tend to dry and become flat which causes the vertebrae to lose height and resilience. Due to this degenerative process, the vertebrae get closer and cause nerve irritation, which commonly results in bone spurs, stenosis or ruptured discs.

Anterior cervical fusion is a neurological procedure performed to provide relief of pressure on the spinal cord or one or more nerve roots. Stability is achieved when two or more vertebrae are locked together (fused). This fusion process stops the vertebral motion, thereby stopping the pain. A bone graft is placed which allows the fusion to take place.

A plate and screws are used to provide extra support to your neck and make sure that the adequate fusion of the bones takes place.

Recovery time for cervical fusion surgery is generally two to three months. The surgery is considered a success when the symptoms are improved and the bone has healed across the fusion. A patient’s activity level depends on fusion strength. For patients with solid bone and strong metal fixation, more activity could be allowed.

The most common complication from cervical fusion is that it fails to relieve neck pain. Fortunately, this is not a common occurrence, but does happen in some cases. The major potential complication is lack of adequate bone growth between adjacent vertebrae. Known as incomplete fusion, this may require additional surgery. A number of factors can affect incomplete fusion, including smoking, drugs, certain medicine reactions and an individual’s natural bone strength.

 
 
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