Spinal fusion is a conventional spine surgery that combines two or more vertebrae. The procedure is commonly used to address conditions that cause back pain like spondylolisthesis, cervical herniated discs, and cervical degenerative disc disease. It can also be an option to remove bone spurs that came from arthritis. Bone spurs are growths that can form at the edges of bone and are known as osteophytes.
Spinal fusion is performed to stop motion of the vertebrae at specific segments to alleviate pain generated by herniated or diseased discs. These discs typically put pressure on surrounding nerve roots as the jelly-like substance inside them leaks out through their shell. Surgeons remove the damaged disc material and then insert bone graft to stop motion at that location. The graft generates new bone that fuses the vertebrae together.
While most spinal surgeries within the cervical area are done at the back of the neck, an anterior cervical spine fusion requires an incision on the front of the neck. This process comes with several advantages. First, the spine surgeon receives direct access to the damaged disc. Removing this disc takes the pressure off the surrounding nerve roots which can help alleviate pain. This path is also less complicated for surgeons, and patients tend to feel less pain after the operation.
Although there is a general procedure for anterior cervical spine fusion surgeries, they are not all carried out the same way. Different types of implants, the level in which the surgeon makes the incision, and which bone graft the doctor may recommend, are all factors that can change from person to person. As a patient, you have the right to understand how an anterior cervical spine fusion is right for you as well as what your other options are. Often, surgery is the last option offered after non-surgical options for your back and neck pain did not lead to success. If you are looking for the best guidance on your neck pain caused by a spine disease, contact one of the Spine Institute’s New Jersey offices to see how we can help.