As serious as a cervical spine injury can be, fusion is not always the best treatment method. If you are suffering from chronic neck pain due to trauma, overuse, a degenerative condition, or any other type of anatomical abnormality, you should consider all of your options before deciding on any type of surgery. In fact, some spine injuries may simply be strains or sprains of the muscles and ligaments that surround the spine, either of which can be successfully treated with a course of non-operative, conservative treatment.
Bone Grafts and Hardware for Cervical Spine Injury Fusion
Fusion of the spine is an extremely involved, invasive surgery. A surgeon will access your cervical spine either anteriorly (through the front of the neck) or posteriorly (through the back of the neck). A discectomy is performed and the disc space is filled with bone grafts, usually small titanium cages filled with morselized bone. Ideally, the grafted bone will fuse with the existing vertebrae over a period of time, thus stabilizing and immobilizing that section of the spine. Bone grafts can be obtained in the following ways:
- Autograft – bone taken from the same person receiving the graft, often from areas like the pelvis, jaw, chin, or ribs.
- Allograft – bone taken from someone other than the individual receiving the graft, often from cadavers whose tissues are at bone banks.
- Synthetic bone material – artificial bone can be created through a variety of chemical processes; growth factors are also used with synthetic bone material to increase the chances of osteoblastic success.
Minimally Invasive Options
The obvious risks of any procedure involving a bone graft include osteoblastic failure (full fusion doesn’t occur), complications at the site of the autograft, or rejection of the graft. Less obvious risks include muscle trauma, nerve damage, and infection. If the potential complications of a cervical spine fusion are making you so anxious that you don’t want to seek lasting relief from neck pain, it may be time to contact Laser Spine Institute. Our revolutionary spinal decompression procedures have helped tens of thousands of people rediscover lives without back pain and without the risks and lengthy recovery periods of traditional open spine surgery.