Decompression and fusion surgery is commonly considered to be a helpful solution to addressing bone spurs, pinched nerves or herniated discs. In order to reduce the movement and instability caused by deteriorating cartilage or bulging discs, a decompression and fusion procedure allows the problem area to be addressed and a bone graft to be added. Then in the healing process, two or more vertebrae are joined together in order to stabilize and protect the cervical region of the spine, therefore reducing pain.
The ultimate goal of a decompression and anterior cervical fusion procedure is to eliminate excessive motion and provide spinal stability by removing damaged discs and replacing them with new bone that will naturally graft together.
Below, we’ve put together the top 4 reasons why patients suffering from spinal injuries and conditions in the cervical region should talk to their physicians about the possibility of having this procedure done.
The Benefits of a Decompression and Anterior Cervical Fusion Procedure
1. The “fusing” is a natural process.
Successful spinal decompression and fusion surgeries result in the end goal of joining two or more vertebrae together for the purpose of promoting stability and strength in the previously damaged area of the spine. However, there is a common misconception that the fusion itself takes place during the procedure. This is not the case. While all of the necessary preparatory work is completed during surgery (damaged disc and tissue are cleaned out, new bone implant is placed between the vertebrae, etc.) the fusing of the vertebrae is left to take place as a natural healing process post-surgery. This is part of what makes this procedure so successful as a long term solution. A proper recovery that results in a successful fusion will provide stability for the spine for years to come.
2. An anterior approach sometimes provides better access for your surgeon.
If there is a procedure specifically called “anterior cervical fusion” then you might assume that there is also one that takes place from a posterior approach - and you would be right! So, what’s the difference between these two surgeries? And why is the anterior incision sometimes prefered? The choice of how to approach the spine is made by assessing the location of the compressive pathology. Depending on where the problem issue is and how the cervical region of the spine is aligned, your surgeon will make a call concerning whether the surgery would be more successful if approached anteriorly or posteriorly.
3. This approach to cervical surgery offers a quick recovery.
Besides the advantage to the surgeon, there is also a benefit to the patient who undergoes an anterior spinal decompression and fusion surgery. If the spinal injury is addressed before the point of irreversible damage, patients tend to heal quickly and experience a significant degree of relief from pain. In fact, one of the most impressive aspects of anterior cervical fusion procedures is that most patients are able to leave the hospital the very next day (or, at least within 2-3 days).
4. Patients experience significant relief of pain and other symptoms.
Of course, the conversation about the benefits of decompression and fusion surgery would not be complete without discussing the most obvious reason any patient would consider having this procedure done in the first place - pain relief! Cervical herniated discs and osteoarthritis are some of the more common causes of severe neck and arm pain. These conditions are also often associated with other symptoms as well, such as numbness, tingling or weakness. A successful decompression and anterior cervical fusion procedure can correct the root issue and provide relief of the associated pain and other symptoms.