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Posterior Cervical Decompression and Fusion

Posterior cervical decompression and fusion is a technique that allows for decompression of multiple segments of the cervical spine in patients with multi-level stenosis.

It also involves placement of screws in the lateral masses, connected by a rod to afford immediate stability to create a fusion.

It is a great option for patients with pain down the arms, neck pain from instability, certain tumors and fractures, and patients with progressive functional loss from cervical stenosis.

Posterior cervical decompression and fusion is typically used to treat: cervical disc herniation, cervical stenosis, myelopathy, radiculopathy, spinal instability, cord compression, infections of the spine, cancer of the spine

Having Posterior Cervical Decompression and Fusion

During surgery, your surgeon will place you face down on a special operating table with your head suspended in a vice.

A small amount of hair in the back of your head or neck may need to be shaved.

An incision down the middle of your neck is made and the muscle is carefully separated.

Screws under fluoroscopic guidance are placed into the lateral masses at the necessary levels on both sides of the spine.

The central lamina and spinous processes are then drilled away and removed, directly decompressing the spinal cord and nerve roots.

The screws are then connected by a rod and the patient’s own bone, along with bone graft, is packed to help promote fusion.

How Posterior Cervical Decompression and Fusion Works

In patients with instability, either from severe arthritis and degeneration, trauma, or cancer, the screws and rods serve to afford immediate stability in addition to providing a foundation for fusion to occur.

By removing the central lamina and spinous processes, your surgeons can remove bone spurs, overgrown ligaments, and other offending agents that compress your spinal cord.

By relieving this pressure, we can improve blood flow to your spinal cord, preventing functional loss and sometimes even improving your functional ability.

Benefits of Posterior Cervical Decompression and Fusion

In patients with multiple levels of stenosis and degeneration, this operation allows your surgeon to treat all areas of compression.

Furthermore, in patients with fractures or tumors, this allows the surgeon wide access to the spine to ensure he/she achieves stability to a compromised spine.

In some cases, the surgeon can achieve improved lordosis, or prevent kyphosis from multilevel decompressions alone with the addition of screws.

Recovering From Posterior Cervical Decompression and Fusion

Depending on the number of levels, recovery can vary.

Generally, patients are asked to wear a hard cervical collar for the first month.

We ask patients not to bend or twist their neck excessively for that first month of healing.

We do, however, encourage plentiful walking and sitting or standing upright to engage the muscles in your neck to promote healing.

After the initial four weeks, you will be asked to gradually wean the collar off as you start physical therapy.

You should return to full functioning by 3-6 months.

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