Mini open cervical fusion refers to a surgical procedure performed on the neck region that alleviates pressure on the nerve roots or on the nerves within the spinal column. Mini open describes the small incision required for the corrective surgery. The term fusion describes combining two or more neck vertebrae for stability.
Conditions Requiring Cervical Fusion
Osteopathic surgeons perform cervical fusion when patients suffer trauma caused by injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal deformities or tumors. These conditions often contribute to herniated or ruptured discs or damaged vertebra. Discs lie between the vertebrae as a cushioning component that helps maintain spinal alignment and protect nerve tissue. If a patient suffers from a damaged vertebra, the action often damages the disc, which creates misalignment and nerve compression. Individuals having cervical conditions often suffer a variety of symptoms that include numbness, tingling and pain in the neck, arms or legs.
Mini Open Cervical Fusion Procedure
While the patient lies on their back under general anesthesia, the surgeon creates a small incision in the front of the neck. Through this incision, the physician initially gently pushes aside soft tissues until accessing the area on the cervical spine requiring correction. Using specially designed instruments that removes the damaged disc and repairs or removes the traumatized vertebra.
If the procedure merely requires removing the disc, the physician may leave the space between the vertebrae open or fill the space with a small piece of bone grafted from the patient or a donor. Surgeons might also stabilize the space between the vertebrae using a metal plate and screws. If the procedure requires removing a vertebra, the osteopath fashions a replacement using bone grafts and or metal implants screwed into place. After completing the repair, the surgeon closes the incision and applies a small dressing.
Fusion completes during the healing process, as new bone tissue connects one vertebra to another. Though the surgery prevents movement in that specific location on the spine, most people maintain the ability to bend and flex the neck normally.
Patients often experience symptomatic relief following surgery. Surgeons may require that the patient remain in the hospital for a brief time following the procedure. Postoperative instructions might also necessitate that the patient wear a protective cervical collar for a determined length of time. Patients may return to normal daily activities as recommended by the surgeon.
Risks of Cervical Fusion
As surgeons need only make a small incision, the patient endures less trauma and recovers quicker. Risk factors depend on the patient’s age, health, particular diagnosis and the procedure method. Patients may experience discomfort at the donor site. The vertebrae may not fuse or the implants may dislodge or break. Other complications include the possibility of developing blood clots, suffering root or spinal nerve damage, or acquiring an infection. Some patients experience bone graft rejection.