Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion in Roseville, CA
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is a combined surgical procedure to decompress spinal nerves and stabilize the cervical spine. This surgery is performed to relieve pain, numbness and weakness in the neck, shoulder, and arms, and to provide stability in this portion of the spine. As the name indicates, this procedure is performed through an incision at the front, or anterior, of one side of the neck. With this surgical approach, the disc can be accessed without disturbing the spinal cord, the neck muscles and uninvolved spinal nerves. The operation is performed under general anesthesia.
The cervical spine begins at the base of the skull and consists of seven vertebrae with discs between them. One of the most important parts of the body, the neck is also the most articulate portion of the spine, moving more freely and in more directions than the other sections. Beyond that, the cervical spine is also responsible for protecting the spinal cord and providing support to the skull, which in turn protects the brain. Because of the neck's vital functions, injury or disease of the cervical spine is a very serious condition.
Reasons for an Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion
An anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is considered when there has been severe damage to the upper spine. This can be due to a fracture or congenital anomaly, but the majority of patients develop damage from progressive, chronic degenerative disease. Often, this occurs as a result of osteoarthritis or a herniated disc. An anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is usually performed when a patient is experiencing debilitating pain because cervical nerves are being compressed or when there is excessive motion between the vertebrae of the cervical spine.
The Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion Procedure
During the cervical discectomy, a disc that has been herniated or ruptured is surgically removed. The discectomy eliminates pressure on the compressed nerve(s), and thus relieves the pain and other symptoms such compression causes.
During the cervical fusion portion of the surgery, two or more damaged vertebrae are joined through the use of a spacer that is packed with bone graft so that they will eventually grow together. The spacer maintains the natural space between the bones as they heal together.
While it takes several months for the bones to fully fuse together, most patients feel better within a few weeks of the surgery. Often, patients experience neck pain as well as pain and swelling with swallowing during the immediate post-operative period. However, these symptoms are almost always transient.