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What is Cervical Spine Surgery?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Cervical spine surgery is a procedure aimed at alleviating weakness, tingling, numbness and pain associated with the cervical spine. At the same time, the surgery seeks to correct any abnormalities in the function of the spine and help to restore a proper level of nerve function. The exact form of cervical surgery will depend on the general condition of the patient and what must be done in order to ease pressure on the nerves along the spinal column or any irritants to the vertebrae of the back.

Surgeons can take several different approaches to the process of cervical spine surgery. Often, the procedure will require the removal of a disc or a section of bone that is damaged beyond repair. The associated vertebrae are then fused together using some type of bone grafting along the front of the back of the spine. The graft may utilize a section of bone taken from elsewhere in the body or bone tissue retrieved from a bone bank. Depending on the degree of spinal instability, the surgeon may elect to use wires, plates, or screws in order to provide additional support to the area.

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As with decompression surgery and other types of back procedures, one of the goals of cervical spine surgery is to eliminate nerve pinching. By restoring stability to the spinal column, this can often help to ease pressure on a pinched nerve or nerves and allow the nerve endings to begin healing naturally. As time goes on, the pain continues to lessen, sometimes to the point that the patient is barely aware of any discomfort.

Undergoing cervical spine surgery is an option that is rarely the first choice of patients or healthcare professionals. Generally, the procedure is only suggested in cases that have been thoroughly evaluated. Often, alternative methods may have been utilized in an attempt to correct the situation. However, when it is obvious that surgery is the only way to ease suffering and restore a credible quality of life to the patient, the surgeon will recommend the procedure.

As with any type of surgical procedure, there are some risks associated with cervical spine surgery. Common risks such as infection or an adverse reaction to the anesthesia are present. There is also the potential for further injury to the spinal cord and the surrounding network of nerves. The body may reject the bone graft or the fusion may not heal properly. For a period of time, intense pain in the region of the graft may also be present. It is important for the patient to understand the risks as well as the potential benefits of having the cervical surgery, making it possible to prepare adequately for the recovery period.

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