C6-C7 Fusion Surgery - Risks and Potential Side Effects

Like any operation on the spine, elective open C6-C7 fusion surgery carries certain risks and potential side effects that should always be taken into consideration before consent is given by the patient. This type of operation is most commonly performed to alleviate symptoms that stem from neural compression at the level of the sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae within the neck. These symptoms can include tingling, numbness, muscle weakness or pain that travels through the neck, the upper back, the arms and the fingers. Every effort should be made to control these symptoms using conservative methods. Surgery might become an option if the problem is severely impacting a patient’s quality of life, or if symptoms persist for several weeks or months in spite of non-surgical treatment.

Know the risks before saying yes

C6-C7 fusion is often performed as a traditional open neck procedure. Most open spine procedures entail hospitalization, a large incision, the cutting of muscle tissue and the insertion of hardware and bone graft material to stabilize the segment and reduce the chance of future nerve compression. The risks and potential side effects of traditional open spine surgery include:

  • Nerve damage
  • Bone graft rejection
  • Hardware failure

In addition, patients who have undergone a traditional open spine C6-C7 fusion could experience a condition known as a transitional segment, in which permanent fusion of one segment places more stress on a nearby vertebral segment and increases the odds of nerve compression at that level.

Minimally invasive alternatives

In some cases, patients can opt for a minimally invasive spine procedure rather than the highly invasive open spine C6-C7 fusion operation. Minimally invasive procedures as performed at Laser Spine Institute have a lower chance of complications and potential side effects, as well as shorter periods of recuperation. To learn more, contact Laser Spine Institute today.