Gary Alegre, MD
Orthopedic Spine Surgeon located in Stockton, CA
A posterior cervical fusion is a surgical technique to restore strength and stability to your neck following a fracture or if you have a deformity. As a fellowship-trained spine surgeon, Gary Alegre, MD, in Stockton, California, has years of experience helping patients overcome neck trauma. Dr. Alegre may also recommend a posterior cervical fusion for other neck conditions that pinch the spinal nerves. To learn whether this technique can relieve your pain and restore neck function, connect online or call the office today.
Posterior Cervical Fusion Q & A
What is a posterior cervical fusion?
A cervical fusion is a surgical procedure to permanently fuse two or more vertebrae in your neck. When you have a posterior cervical fusion, Dr. Alegre makes an incision on the back side of your neck and fuses the vertebrae along the back sides of the adjoining bones.
Fusing the vertebrae stabilizes your spine and eliminates pain caused by movement between the bones. When multiple vertebrae are fused, the fusion may affect the neck’s range of motion, but it shouldn’t interfere with normal daily activities.
What neck conditions may need a posterior cervical fusion?
The posterior cervical fusion approach is most often used to treat neck fractures and deformities such as cervical kyphosis. Cervical kyphosis occurs when your neck curves in the opposite direction than normal.
Dr. Alegre may also recommend a posterior cervical fusion for other neck problems, including degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, or a spinal tumor.
What symptoms indicate I may need a posterior cervical fusion?
The conditions potentially treated with posterior cervical fusion cause neck pain. Most patients also experience the symptoms caused by pinched nerves.
Pinched nerves lead to pain and tingling that radiate through your shoulders, down your arms and into your hands. In severe cases, you may also develop numbness or weakness in your arms and hands.
In addition to causing compressed nerves, kyphosis also makes it hard to look straight ahead or to move your neck. Kyphosis can also make it hard to swallow. People with spinal tumors often have unrelenting pain and struggle with stiffness and limited movement in their neck.
What happens during a posterior cervical fusion?
If you have a cervical fracture or your surgery is to treat a deformity, Dr. Alegre may only do the spinal fusion. Patients being treated for neck conditions that pinch the nerves may need a decompression procedure such as a laminectomy before the fusion.
To perform a posterior cervical fusion, Dr. Alegre accesses the vertebrae through an incision in the back of your neck. Then he uses tiny screws to attach rods to the vertebrae being fused.
The rods restore stability between two or more vertebrae, which in turn supports the fusion by keeping the bones in place while they heal.
After removing a thin layer of bone from the vertebrae’s outer surface, Dr. Alegre places bone graft material on top of the bones. The bone graft promotes new bone growth that fuses the two vertebrae together.
If you need to schedule a posterior cervical fusion or you would like to learn if this procedure might relieve your neck pain, call Gary Alegre, MD, or book an appointment online.