If you are having pain in your neck, there are two common fusion procedures your surgeon may recommend. If there is damage to a disc in your cervical spine, you may be advised to undergo an Anterior Cervical Discectomy Fusion. Degeneration of a disc in your cervical spine, tumors in your spine or other conditions could prompt a cervical posterior fusion.

Anterior Cervical Discectomy Fusion

If you have pain in your neck caused by Degenerative Disc disease, or a herniated disc, your doctor could end up recommending an Anterior Cervical Discectomy Fusion (ACDF). Famous former NFL quarterback, Peyton Manning had this same procedure in 2011. His surgery came two years before he won the 2013 NFL MVP, led the Broncos to Super Bowl XLVIII, and broke both the single-season passing record and the passing yard record. Read more about his procedure here.

 

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Procedure

Incision

A small incision is made one the front side of your neck.

Removal

The damaged disc is removed along with any bone spurs pressing on the surrounding nerve roots or spinal cord. If the disc is collapsed, the vertebrae is moved back into its normal position.

Implant

The space left by the removed disc is filled with a bone graft. Over time, new bone will form, and the two vertebrae will fuse together.

Results of an ACDF

ACDF patients tend to heal quickly and feel immediate relief after surgery. Most DISC of Louisiana patients are able to leave the hospital a day or two after surgery and go home with only a band-aid covering an incision. Each patient is different, but the complete healing of a bone graft typically takes up to 18 months.

Cervical Posterior Fusion

A posterior cervical fusion is an open procedure, performed through an incision in the back of the neck. A graft that is held tightly in place has a better chance of fusing the vertebrae together. To improve fusion, doctors commonly use metal screws and rods. These implants are referred to as instrumentation and are usually made of titanium.

Many different types of metal implants are used with the intent of maximizing healing of the fusion. Bone heals best when it is held still, without motion between the pieces trying to heal. The healing of a fusion is no different than healing a fractured bone, such as a broken arm.

 

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The Procedure

Incision

A surgeon will make a small incision in the back of the neck.

Retraction

Muscles are moved and held aside , not cut, to access the spine. The tool used to move the muscles is called a “tubular contractor.”

Removal

The bone covering of the spine (lamina) will be removed. Then the affected material (e.g., a damaged spinal disc, the cushion between each vertebra) will be removed.

Implant

The surgeon will place a bone graft—which may be made of local bone from the decompression, cadaver bone or a synthesized material—in the space to promote the fusion of the two vertebrae together.

Fixation

The surgeon will then insert screws to provide stability and correct the deformity, and apply bone graft material along the spine

 

The total surgery time is approximately 2-4 hours, depending on the number of spinal levels involved.

Results of a Posterior Cervical Fusion

The results of posterior cervical fusion (PCF) surgery in the treatment of symptomatic unstable spinal fractures, tumors, infections, and deformity are generally excellent. Numerous research studies in medical journals demonstrate greater than 75-95% good or excellent results from PCF surgery. Most patients are noted to have a significant improvement of their neck pain and instability, and return to many, if not all, of their normal daily and recreational activities.

 

Learn More about our Minimally Invasive Techniques

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DISC of Louisiana offers spinal procedures using minimally invasive techniques. It means smaller incisions, sometimes less than an inch, that is often covered with a band-aid. The minimally invasive spine surgeon inserts special surgical instruments through the tiny incisions to access the damaged disc. Unlike traditional “open” spine surgery, entry and repair to the damaged disc or vertebrae is achieved without harming nearby muscles and tissues. Less muscle and tissue damage results in less pain and a faster recovery. Click here to learn more.

 

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