Many conditions and problems of the cervical spine can be successfully treated with nonsurgical treatment. However, if neck pain and other symptoms persist after several weeks of nonsurgical treatment, surgery may be recommended.
At Austin Spine, we offer a wide range of surgical treatment options for cervical spine conditions.
Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF)
An anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) may be recommended for patients with degenerative disc disease or herniated disc. During the procedure, the damaged disc is removed to relieve pressure on the nerve root, and the vertebrae above and below the disc space are fused together using a bone graft. The surgeon uses an anterior approach during this procedure, making an incision at the front of the neck rather than at the back of the neck (posterior). This approach allows the surgeon to access the spine more easily and may result in less postoperative pain.
Cervical Disc Replacement (Arthroplasty)
For some patients with cervical disc damage, cervical disc replacement or arthroplasty may be an alternative to an ACDF procedure. During this procedure, the damaged disc is replaced with artificial components. A cervical disc replacement may reduce the chance of problems in adjacent discs, as it allows for more normal neck motion than a fusion procedure. Also, because the bone does not need to fuse together, healing times may be faster. However, cervical disc replacement may not be an option for patients with damage in multiple cervical discs or patients with osteoporosis.
A cervical foraminotomy may be another alternative to an ACDF for some patients. Spinal nerve roots pass through small spaces in the vertebrae called foramen. Cervical spine problems like bulging discs, herniated discs, and bone spurs can narrow the space for the nerve root as it passes through the foramen. In these cases, a cervical foraminotomy may be performed to widen the passage. During this procedure, any disc material and/or bone spurs that narrow the space in the foramen may be removed. Unlike an ACDF, a fusion is not required.
Cervical laminoplasty may be recommended for patients who experience narrowing of the spinal canal due to conditions like cervical spondylotic myelopathy and cervical stenosis. During this procedure, the surgeon creates a “hinge” in the lamina, the back wall of the vertebrae. The space is then wedged open with a small bone graft held in place by fixation devices. This procedure may result in more stability than a laminectomy, in which the lamina is removed completely.
Posterior Cervical Fusion
A posterior cervical fusion is most commonly used for patients with fractures or instability in the cervical spine, although it may be used for other conditions like tumors, infections, or deformity. During the procedure, the surgeon places a bone graft along the backside of the vertebrae. Metal screws and rods may be used to hold the bone in place while healing. Once the bone heals, the two vertebrae will fuse together, creating more stability.
Revision Cervical Surgery
In some cases, proper healing may not be achieved after the first spinal procedure. In other cases, further spinal conditions may arise after the initial procedure, damaging the area once more. In these cases, revision cervical surgery may be necessary. Because the natural spinal structure has been altered by the previous procedure, revision cervical surgery is often more complex than the initial procedure. It is important to choose a surgeon skilled in revision procedures, like the surgeons at Austin Spine, to ensure the best possible outcome from your revision procedure.
Cervical Osteotomies for Deformity Correction (Scoliosis and Kyphosis)
Cervical osteotomy procedures are used to treat deformities in the cervical spine like scoliosis (a sideways curvature of the spine) and kyphosis (a forward curvature of the spine). During a cervical osteotomy, parts of the vertebrae are cut and removed to restore proper alignment in the cervical spine. Rods and screws may be used to hold the bones in place while the spine heals into its new position.
Minimally Invasive Cervical Spine Surgery (MIS)
With minimally invasive cervical spine surgery, your surgeon can perform the procedure through smaller incisions, resulting in less damage to the surrounding muscles. This can result in quicker recovery times than traditional open procedures. At Austin Spine, we offer minimally invasive cervical decompression and cervical fusion procedures.
If you would like more information about cervical spine surgery at Austin Spine or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled surgeons, please call our office at (512) 347-7463.