Cervical spine fusion overview

A cervical spine fusion is an operation that focuses on the seven vertebrae in the neck and upper back. Each of these vertebrae (except for the first two) is separated by a spongy disc that absorbs shock, connects vertebral bodies and provides flexibility to the spine. However, over time, these discs can degenerate and cause debilitating neck pain that negatively affects your quality of life. To learn about the conditions that require cervical spine fusion, how the process works and the minimally invasive alternatives available to this procedure, read the following article.

Conditions that can prompt cervical spine fusion

A variety of conditions prompt people to seek relief in the form of cervical spine fusion, including:

  • Herniated discs
  • Bulging discs
  • Fractures
  • Misaligned vertebrae

The above issues can pinch surrounding cervical spine nerves and cause symptoms like pain, tingling, numbness or weakness that remains stationary in the neck or radiates through the shoulders, arms and hands. Additionally, misaligned or fractured vertebrae, if not properly aligned and stabilized, can cause deformity, spinal cord injury or paralysis.

The process of cervical spine fusion

Traditional open spine fusion begins with the surgeon making a fairly large incision that is 6 to 8 inches in length in the front of the neck (anterior spinal fusion) or in the back of the neck (posterior fusion). Soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons and ligaments are either moved aside or cut, in which case they would be stitched back together after the procedure is complete.

Next, the surgeon will perform a discectomy and remove the spinal disc that is damaged and causing nerve compression. The vertebrae will then be spread open to make room for the bone grafts that will occupy the disc space. The fused section of the neck can then be further stabilized with implants. Most patients must wear a neck brace after the surgery.

Additional cervical spine fusion treatments

For many patients, the massively invasive nature of open spine surgeries, like a traditional fusion of the spine, can be so intimidating that they choose not to pursue treatment options beyond pain medication, ice packs or physical therapy. However, Laser Spine Institute wants to let you know that there are safer and effective alternatives to traditional cervical spinal fusion.^ To learn about what sets us apart as the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, contact our dedicated team today.

Since 2005, our minimally invasive decompression procedures have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from their chronic neck or back conditions. By using a less than 1-inch incision, that does not unnecessarily disrupt the muscles or ligaments surrounding the spine, our procedures are able to offer patients lasting relief from their pain and discomfort. To find out if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive alternative to cervical spine fusion, reach out to Laser Spine Institute and ask for a free MRI review.* We can help guide you on your next step to finding pain relief.

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