If you are dealing with a herniated disc in your neck or shifting cervical discs due to natural degeneration or injury, a cervical fusion operation may be able to restore stability and prevent pain in your neck. Cervical fusion is one of the more common procedures that Dr. Sinicropi performs on a regular basis, and he’s helped countless patients put their neck problems in the past. Here’s a closer look at the cervical fusion surgery.
How is Cervical Fusion Performed?
Cervical fusion can be performed using a number of different techniques, and your exact surgery will vary based on your symptoms, the location of the troubling disc, and your personal preference. Here’s a look at a couple of different ways the procedure is performed:
- Bone Grafts. Bone can be taken from somewhere else in your body or harvested elsewhere to bridge the adjacent vertebrae. The bone graft stimulates the growth of new bone between the two vertebrae.
- Artificial Implants. Artificial implants may be used in place of bone grafts to hold the vertebrae in a specific location until new bone can grow between the two vertebrae to provide stabilization. Implants can be made of a variety of materials most commonly titanium or a synthetic plastic material.
- Metal Plates. Plates can be screwed into the bone to join the two vertebrae together to add stability and increase the rates of fusion.
All of these fusion options have high rates of success, and your doctor can walk you through the specifics of each surgery and provide their opinion on what option may be best at your surgical consultation.
Potential Risks or Complications
Cervical fusion can provide pain relief, but with any surgery, it does some with some potential risks or complications. The most common issue associated with cervical fusion is a decrease in mobility in the neck at the affected level. This makes sense considering two vertebrae are being fused together, meaning they’ll now move in unison, which will inherently affect your flexibility in the neck. That being said, we rarely use the full range of motion of our neck in our daily lives, so most patients don’t even notice the minor loss in flexibility. And even if they do, it’s a welcome trade off to be pain free.
Other potential risks during cervical fusion include:
- Fusion failure
- Problems with the hardware
- Anesthesia issues
- Nerve damage
Although these are the risk and complications that are commonly associated with cervical fusion, it’s important to note that actual onset of complications is rare. The majority of patients do not experience any of these complications because the surgical team does everything in their power to minimize potential risks.
There are some things you should consider prior to undergoing a cervical fusion operation. For starters, most surgeons will not jump straight to surgery without trying conservative care techniques, like physical therapy or a cervical strengthening routine. If your surgeon jumps straight to surgery, consider getting a second opinion from another specialist, unless you’re dealing with a problem like an infection or a tumor, which need to be addressed as soon as possible. Most doctors like to try conservative treatment options for 8-12 weeks before considering surgery as the answer.
As we alluded to in the above point, always consider getting a second opinion prior to surgery. Two heads are better than one, and one specialist may have a better grasp on effective treatment options compared to another. No surgeon should take offense to your desire to get a second opinion and learn more about all your options. Dr. Sinicropi has provided a number of second opinions, and it always helps to give the patient a clearer idea of what they’re dealing with.
So if you’ve been told you may need a cervical fusion operation, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi to learn about all your options. He’d be more than happy to provide a diagnosis and walk your through all your surgical and non-surgical options. Contact his office today for more information.