Minimally Invasive Posterior Cervical Fusion

Minimally invasive posterior cervical fusion is a procedure used to relieve neck pain (radiculopathy) by removing the pressure on pinched nerves that has been unrelieved by conservative measures.

During the procedure a titanium cervical cage, about the size of a tic tac, is placed between the facet joints. This lifts the facet joint relieving the pressure on the pinched nerve. Bone graft material is inserted in and around the cage to promote fusion without the use of hardware (screws and plates).

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What is a Minimally Invasive Posterior Cervical Fusion?

Minimally invasive posterior cervical fusion is a procedure used to treat pinched nerves caused by degenerative disc disease, spondylosis or radiculopathy that has been unrelieved by conservative measures.

The surgeon makes a small incision in the back of the neck (posterior approach) to gain access to the spine. The surgeon will place bone graft material in the cage. Then under fluoroscopic guidance a special surgical instrument holding the cage is inserted between the facet joints and the cervical cage is released between the facet joints. Once the cage is in place more bone graft material is placed around the cage and on the facet joint above and below the cage. The soft tissues of the neck are moved back into place and the incision is closed.

Who is a Candidate for a Minimally Invasive Posterior Cervical Fusion?

Candidates for minimally invasive posterior cervical fusion typically have ongoing arm and neck pain. Once all conservative treatment methods have been exhausted, consult with your spine surgeon to determine if a minimally invasive posterior cervical is right for you.

Patients who may experience relief from a minimally invasive posterior cervical fusion often have:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Weakness in their hand or arm
  • Pain in the arm and neck pain
  • Not see improvement with physical therapy and/or medication

Be sure to consider all risk and benefits of spine surgery before making your decision.

What to Expect After a Minimally Invasive Posterior Cervical Fusion

As with any surgery you will experience some pain and discomfort. This is due to the incision and muscles being moved while surgery is being performed. If you had pain and numbness prior to your surgery, you may have these afterwards as well; especially if you had any delicate surgery around the nerve itself. This will gradually improve as you heal.

You will wear a hard cervical brace for several weeks allowing the bone graft material to bond with the vertebrae above and below its insertion area. Once the area is healing adequately you will move into a soft collar and will start physical therapy. It’s important to complete the entire physical therapy prescribed ensure the best possible outcome from you surgery.

Results of a Minimally Invasive Posterior Cervical Fusion

Patients often have immediate improvement in their symptoms. There is no bone or disc removed. Patients do not have problems swallowing or speaking as they sometimes do after an anterior (front of neck) approach. There is also a quicker return to normal function and it leaves future surgical options open.

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