Cervical Posterior Fusion
In the posterior cervical fusion, the operation is done 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. However, the neck is one part of the body that is difficult to hold still, even with a brace worn around the outside of the neck. Wearing a brace for several months after the surgery can be uncomfortable.
Conditions Treated by Cervical Posterior Fusion
Posterior cervical fusion surgery is designed to treat certain spinal conditions after all other conservative methods of treatment have failed (e.g., medications, physical therapy). Conditions treated with this technique include:
- Damage to the spine due to infection or tumors
- Degenerative disc disease (DDD): A natural deterioration of the spinal discs (the cushions between the vertebrae) as the body ages, resulting in loss of disc flexibility or disc herniation
- Fracture(s) in the cervical vertebrae
- Herniated discs: When the soft center of a disc leaks through a crack in the tough outer layer and puts pressure on the nerve or nerve roots
- Spinal stenosis: A narrowing of the spinal canal that places pressure on the spinal cord and associated nerves
- Spondylolisthesis: When one of the vertebrae slips forward over the other
Benefits of Cervical Posterior Fusion
Need a blurb about this.
During the procedure, the surgeon:
- Makes a small incision in the back of the neck, then moves the muscles and holds them aside using a tool known as a tubular contractor
- Removes the bony covering of the spine (lamina) and then removes the affected material (e.g., a damaged spinal disc, the cushion between each vertebra)
- Places 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
- Inserts screws to provide stability and correct the deformity, then applies bone graft material along the spine
The total surgery time is approximately 2-4 hours, depending on the number of spinal levels involved.
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.
If you have questions about spinal stenosis or the minimally invasive spine procedures offered by DISC of Louisiana, please contact us to schedule an evaluation at one of our clinics across the south Louisiana region.
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