Cervical Spine Surgery – An Overview
Cervical spine surgery is a group of orthopedic surgical procedures that are performed with the aim to treat a large number of diseases and disorders that affect the cervical (upper) portion of the spine.
Most cases (almost 90%) of cervical pain get better with time without the need for any special treatment procedure, but in the rest of the cases, if cervical disc pain is not relieved with time and other alternate non-surgical treatments then it might need a surgical treatment in order to provide relief and treat the condition as well.
A cervical disc condition mostly makes the inter-vertebral disc, which acts as a cushion between any two adjacent vertebras, get damaged. This results in pain in the neck from swelling or muscle spasms as well. In more severe cases, the numbness and pain can spread to the arm as well as due to the pressure being applied on the cervical nerve roots.
Need for Cervical Spine Surgery
There are several kinds of cervical spine surgeries that are commonly used. The type of procedure to be used for a cervical spine surgery in a particular case depends on various factors, such as:
- Patient’s age
- Overall health
- Underlying medical conditions (if any)
- Medical history
- Doctor/surgeon’s discretion
The surgeon will take into consideration these factors in deciding the best-suited surgical treatment for the cervical spine surgery.
Cervical Spine Surgery procedure
A cervical spine surgery mainly aims to relieve the painful and disabling symptoms being caused by a damaged cervical (upper) vertebra of the spine. This can be caused either due to:
- Medical disorder
- Disease (arthritis)
- Trauma (injury)
- Old age
A cervical spine surgery is a major orthopedic surgical procedure and hence will mostly be done after administering general anesthesia to the patient in order to avoid pain or discomfort during the surgical procedure.
These are the commonly used cervical spine surgery methods:
- Discectomy – This method involves removing the entire damaged intervertebral disc that is pinching (causing impingement) on the spinal nerves or putting excess pressure on the spinal cord. Depending on the location of the disc, the surgeon can use a front (anterior) approach to making an incision or the back (posterior) approach on the neck.
- Micro-Discectomy – This is similar to the procedure to a Discectomy with the difference being that it is performed using the minimally invasive surgical (laparoscopic) technique. This involves making smaller (keyhole) and less number of incisions for removing the damaged intervertebral disc. This technique holds several advantages over the traditional Discectomy procedure.
After a discectomy (using any technique) the surgeon will need to fill the space that is left between the vertebras after the connecting intervertebral disc has been removed. This is required to close the gap between the vertebras and also to restore the spine to its original height.
This can be done by:
- Artificial Cervical Disc Replacement – This is an artificially-made implant that resembles and functions similar to a natural intervertebral disc. This is also known as a ‘spacer’ as it is used to fill the space left by the removed intervertebral disc. This implant is usually placed at the same time the disc is removed and the surgery takes an additional 20-30 minutes besides the Discectomy. This artificial cervical disc replacement is known to provide cushioning and mobility to the spine as natural disc.
- Cervical Fusion – This is also known as ‘cervical spinal fusion’ or Arthrodesis. This surgery basically involves joining (fusing) the two vertebras adjacent to the damaged intervertebral disc together. This can be accomplished using a bone graft from the patient’s body or from a bone bank. This grafted piece of bone is used to connect the two adjacent vertebras. The surgeon might also use a metal implant instead of a bone graft to perform the fusion of adjacent cervical vertebras. These act as supports until the natural bone can grow enough to make the fusion on its own.
Risks Associated with Cervical Spine Surgery
The flexibility of the neck in most people is not affected even after a cervical spinal fusion although it does stiffen a part of the neck.
The surgical process of the cervical spine surgery might carry the rare risk of complications, such as:
- Blood clots
- Anesthetic allergy
- Nerve damage
- Spinal cord damage
- Pain in graft (incisions) site
- Failure of vertebral bones to fuse (join)
- Breakage of implants
Recovery after Cervical Spine Surgery
The patient can usually move around within a few (5-6) hours after the cervical spine surgery. The doctor might suggest an overnight stay in the hospital to ensure there are no post-surgical complications.
Pain might be experienced in the incision area for a few days after the surgery but eases with painkillers and disappears after 3-4 days altogether. The spinal fusion may take anywhere from 3 months to 1 year to become strong and permanent. The doctor might also advise wearing a special neck brace (cervical collar) to help give additional support to the neck for around 4-6 weeks.
The spinal fusion and healing process can be speeded up by the inclusion of healthy diet and regular exercises in your daily routine.
Choose Travcure for Effective and Affordable Cervical Spine Surgery in India
Travcure is known as India’s largest and leading medical tour service providers with a reach that gives access to patients from across the globe. India is home to the world’s largest network of tertiary care global-class healthcare facilities that are equipped with the most advanced and modern medical technology. Travcure arranges their patients to get the most effective and conveniently affordable cervical spine surgery at the best hospital, and by the most experienced medical specialists, available in India.[free_quotes_and_consultation]