Anterior Cervical Fusion
Anterior Cervical Fusion is a surgical procedure in which a degenerative disc in the neck is replaced with a spacer and bone products to weld the adjacent bones together.
Cervical discs in the neck can break down for a number of reasons, including injury, or natural breakdown as the body ages.
Who can Benefit from Cervical (Neck) Fusion?
Candidates for fusion surgery usually have some combination of the following symptoms:
- Neck pain
- Pain between the shoulder blades
- Arm pain or weakness
- Changes in gait
- Difficulty walking
Anterior Cervical Fusion can help patients who are not candidates for cervical foraminotomy, cervical laminectomy, or cervical total disc replacement. For many conditions, anterior spinal fusion is an excellent option and can result in dramatic improvement in pain symptoms and quality of life.
The cervical spine is exposed through an anterior (front) incision and the target disc is marked using imaging. Using specialized tools the degenerated or injured disc is removed completely. Trial spacers are placed to achieve the exact right fit for the actual spacer. The spacer is then filled with bone products and is inserted using specialized delivery devices to achieve the perfect fit. An appropriately sized plate is then chosen and screws are placed in the bones, which are being fused. Final x-rays are taken to confirm proper placement.
Find more detailed information on what to expect during surgery here.
The incision is closed with absorbable stitches and the patient is brought to the recovery area. Anterior cervical fusion generally takes one hour per level performed. After completing the surgery patient will usually spend one night in the hospital, but for one or two level surgery can sometimes be discharged home as an outpatient.
Neck Surgery Recovery
Patients who undergo anterior cervical surgery can often return to light activities within a few weeks, but this can vary depending on the individual patient, number of levels treated, and other factors. Recovery will include rest, physical therapy, and a short course of pain management medication.