Ways To Perform a Cervical Spinal Fusion

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Cervical spinal fusion is a surgical technique that is used to stabilize the neck after acute injuries like fractures and dislocations. It is also used as a treatment for a misaligned vertebra or mechanical and structural problems, which can cause a very intense, disabling pain. A cervical spinal fusion is only recommended if the patient does not feel relief from pain after regular medication.

The surgery involves fusion or joining of certain bones in the cervical spine or neck. There are many different ways to perform a cervical spine fusion, and the most common ones are as follows.

Bone graft

This method involves simulating the growth of a new bone by joining two adjacent bones in the vertebrae. The adjacent bones are joined by using a new bone. This new bone can either be extracted from another part of the body or from a bone bank.

Metal implants or plates

This method involves using a metal implant to join bones form the vertebra, resulting in the growth of a new bone. Metal plates may also be used as screws to join adjacent vertebra.

Vertebra or Spinal disc removal

In these techniques, either the entire vertebra or the spinal disc is removed, and then the adjacent bones are joined.

To perform a cervical spinal fusion procedure, the surgeon will need to make an incision in the neck. If this incision is made in the front of the neck, it is called as an anterior cervical spine fusion, and if it is made on the back of the neck, it is called as a posterior cervical spine fusion.

The actual purpose of this surgery is to strengthen the neck by making it stiffer. A cervical spinal fusion will not reduce the flexibility of the neck in a majority of the cases.

Risks involved in Cervical spinal fusion

There are a few risks associated with a cervical spinal fusion, and at times, there have been cases of postoperative spinal fusion pain. Some of the risks are as follows:

  • Risks associated with anesthesia that is given to a patient during the surgery.
  • Pain in the site where the bone has been grafted.
  • Blood clots in deep veins.
  • Rejection of the bone graft.
  • Injury to the spinal cord or nerves.
  • Breakage of the metal implants or plates.
  • Infection and bleeding.

A cervical spinal fusion is also used as a follow-up treatment for spinal stenosis, disc hernia, rheumatoid arthritis, and other types of spinal deformities.

The patient may be asked to wear a cervical collar after the procedure is completed and may be kept under medical observation for a few days at the hospital