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Cervical fusion, or cervical spinal fusion, is a surgical procedure that fuses together two or more bones in the neck. Cervical fusion can be necessary to stabilize the neck after an injury, tumor or infection. When spinal or vertebral misalignment occurs, your doctor at Kayal Pain & Spine Center may also recommend cervical fusion as a treatment to improve stability and alignment.
Various spinal conditions can cause the cartilage or discs within the spine to weaken. When spine strength is compromised, unnatural movement and instability can occur. This instability leads to issues like herniated discs, pinched nerves and bone spurs. Cervical fusion brings stability back to the neck.
By protecting the spinal cord, cervical fusion therapy can greatly reduce patient pain.
Cervical fusion works by removing damaged tissue from the neck and then stabilizing the bones with grafts, enabling the body to naturally fuse the grafted bones together. Cervical fusion operates on the treatment principle that the body knows how to heal itself. There are two types of cervical fusion: “anterior” on the front of the neck and “posterior” on the back of the neck. Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a procedure that approaches the cervical spine from the front of the neck to remove a damaged disc, relieving pressure on the spinal cord or a nerve. Posterior cervical fusion uses an incision in the back of the neck to join two or more of the vertebrae. Kayal Pain & Spine has experience with both forms of cervical fusion surgery. Your surgeon will use the approach that allows for the best access and positioning during the procedure.
During the cervical fusion surgery, you are given an anesthetic and will be completely asleep. The surgery is then performed in two stages:
Stage 1: Decompression — During the decompression stage, your surgeon removes damaged tissues and cartilage to make space for new, healthy tissue.
Stage 2: Stabilization — After decompression, your surgeon sets up a bone graft, allowing for natural spinal fusion to occur.
Cervical fusion is a process that helps the body heal itself faster. While surgery sets the stage for this healing process to begin, the body itself does the fusing as a natural process during the recovery phase. Therefore, you should be prepared to take care of yourself after the surgery. Depending on your unique situation, the surgery may be done as an outpatient/same-day procedure or involve an overnight stay of one or a few nights in the hospital.
After the surgery, you will be expected to wear a cervical collar while you sleep. This collar will prevent complications and ensure the neck heals in the proper position. Some patients will also be instructed to sleep in a reclining chair.
During the recovery phase, many patients find it beneficial to have a support person who can help with everyday tasks and activities.
Discover the advantages
Cervical fusion has many benefits as it stabilizes the neck, protects the spinal cord and helps ensure proper neck function. But the most popular benefit of cervical fusion is that it’s a long-term solution for relieving pain and other symptoms.
Pain, weakness, numbness and tingling are all common side effects of cervical spinal problems. Cervical fusion surgery is designed to eliminate these problems. Patients who have cervical fusion surgery at Kayal Pain & Spine Center often report a significant and almost immediate improvement in their quality of life.