The main purpose of cervical spine surgery is to remove pain, restore proper nerve function and prevent unusual movement of the spine. It is essentially performed by taking out a portion of a bone or disc and then fusing the spine with a bone graft in the front or rear part of the vertebrae.
There are 2 specific types of bone grafts performed in cervical spine surgery: the autograft and the allograft. These bone grafts are attached using metal wires or screws under normal conditions. This process basically prevents un-natural and unusual movements of the spine, thus reducing the occurrence of pain.
Cervical spine surgery will be recommended for a variety of cervical spine problems. Normally cervical spine surgery will be performed for cases of instability, severe trauma and to aid regeneration of the spine.
Revision surgery is a type of cervical spine surgery, which is utilized for deformity correction; this obviously depends on the patient’s condition. Patients with more severe symptoms may require surgery on the front and back of the neck in addition to the standard cervical spine surgery.
There are 2 main conditions, which generally require cervical spine surgery.
o Degenerative disorder – This is the most common example, in which over time the discs endure wear and tear, which results in the form of a herniated disc. A herniated disc is where the disc cracks or weakens and the inner jelly like substance leaks out. Pain can be quite extreme and is combined with sensation of numbness and weakness in the spine area. Cervical spine surgery will greatly help reduce the pain and recovery time for a herniated disc.
o Cervical deformity – Hyperlordosis is a condition that can be cured via cervical spine surgery. This is a physical deformity and is usually very easy to identify.
Further to these main examples, injuries to the neck are often treated with cervical spine surgery. The reason for this is that the neck is very prone to injury and movement, and requires stabilization to heal correctly this is provided via the cervical spine surgery. Cervical spine surgery in this instance will not only stabilize the neck area but also relieve the pressure and reduce pain.
As is the case in every form of surgery, there are minor risks involved in performing cervical spine surgery. The areas that might be affected are: the Spinal cord, the Esophagus, Nerves, Carotid Artery and Vocal Cords.
Further potential general complications in cervical spine surgery are slow healing rate, blood clot in the lungs and infection. These complications are usually highly dependent on the patient’s health- and generally if there is a risk of such a complication, the cervical spine surgery will not be performed. It is extremely rare, however there is the risk of paralysis or death.
The risks of further complications are more slightly more common with cervical spine surgery than revision surgery. Revision surgery is less effective at relieving the pain than cervical spine surgery. Whichever method of spine surgery you decided on, it is imperative to seek the advice of a recommended specialist and possibly seek a second opinion to confirm that cervical spine surgery is the best treatment options.