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What is Cervical Fusion?
Cervical fusion is a surgical procedure that joins bones located in the cervical spine, which may have been fractured or dislocated. It may also be used to treat problems that cause excessive pain from an infection or cancer.
How is Cervical Fusion Performed?
How to Prepare for Cervical Fusion?
- An anterior or posterior incision is made on the patient’s neck.
- The cervical fusion may be performed in the following ways:
- A bone graft can be used to connect adjacent vertebrae, which stimulates a new bone growth.
- Metal implants and metal plates can be used to hold and join the vertebrae.
- A complete vertebra can be taken out and the spine can be fused.
- The adjacent vertebrae can be fused by removing a spinal disc.
Duration of procedure/surgery:
- The patient needs to undergo a physical examination and certain tests before the surgery.
- The doctor should be informed about any medication that the patient may be taking.
- Certain medication that the patient has been taking may be stopped two weeks before the surgery.
- The doctor should be informed about any medical conditions or ailments of the patient.
- The doctor should be informed if the patient has been drinking more than one or two drinks of alcohol in a day.
- The patient should stop smoking some weeks prior to the surgery to recover quickly.
- The patient will meet an anesthesiologist before the surgery.
2 to 6 hours, depending on factors such as number of vertebrae, instrumentation, etc.
Cervical fusion may be done as an outpatient procedure. If the patient is taken as an inpatient, the patient may be hospitalized for one day.
- The patient may feel tired, thirsty or cold after gaining consciousness.
- The patient may get a sore throat.
- The patient may experience pain or numbness or a tingling sensation due to irritation to the nerves from the surgery.
- Risks of general anesthesia
- Blood clotting
- Stiff neck
- Breakage of fusion implants
- Injury to the nerves and spinal cord
- Excess bleeding
- Intravenous lines are used to provide the patient with medication and fluid.
- The patient should not bend and lift heavy objects. Walking may be permitted if the patient is comfortable.
- The doctor should be consulted before resuming sexual activity.
- The patient is required to wear cervical collars for approximately two months or until the fusion is done. An Aspen collar should be used continuously except when the patient is showering. A Philly collar should be used when the patient is showering.
- Drainage tubes may be attached to the patient’s body to drain fluid and blood from the surgical incision.
- The incision area should be kept dry and covered while showering.
- A catheter may be attached to the patient’s bladder to drain urine.
- The patient should fix an appointment with the doctor 10 to 14 days after the surgery. The doctor will examine the patient and remove any staples during this visit.
- The patient may be required to wear special stockings or boots to prevent blood clotting in the legs.
- The patient is required to use an incentive spirometer that is used to keep the lungs clear. The patient should not drive during the recovery period.
- Physical therapy may be started once the fusion is complete.
The doctor should be informed immediately if the following symptoms occur:
- High fever
- Swelling and infection in the incision area
- Arm or leg weakness
- Severe neck pain
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