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Cervical Spine Anatomy

Your spine consists of a spinal cord supported by a series of interlocking bones called vertebrae. The cervical spine is the upper part of the spine situated in the neck region. It has seven vertebrae, separated and cushioned by spongy intervertebral discs. The vertebrae and discs may get damaged by injury, disease or wear-and-tear, compromising the cervical spine.

What is Cervical Spine Fusion?

Cervical spine fusion is a surgery performed to fuse weak cervical vertebrae with adjacent vertebrae to provide stability and prevent injury to the spinal cord.

Indications for Cervical Spine Fusion

A cervical spine fusion may be indicated to stabilize injuries and prevent fracture and spinal cord damage and to treat misalignment of the vertebrae, herniated discs, arthritis, tumor, deformities, and infection.

Cervical Spine Fusion Procedure

Different techniques may be used to fuse cervical vertebrae. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia. An incision may be made on the front or back of your neck, and muscles and tissues separated to expose the damaged vertebrae. The entire vertebrae or the spinal disc may be removed, and the adjacent bones fused. Your surgeon may remove bone graft from another part of your body or use an artificial bone material and place it between the vertebrae to form a bridge. This stimulates new bone growth. The vertebrae may be stabilized by metal implants, or plates and screws while new bone grows.

What to Expect after Cervical Spine Fusion

You may experience slight stiffness of the neck because of cervical fusion, but it doesn’t compromise its flexibility.

Risks and Complications of Cervical Spine Fusion

As with all surgical procedures, cervical spinal fusion may be associated with certain risks such as graft rejection, failure to fuse, nerve injury, bleeding, and infection.

Outcome of Cervical Spine Fusion

Overall, the procedure has good results and can often treat pain, prevent paralysis and provide stability to the neck.

  • Hao-Hua Wu, M.D.

    101 The City Drive South
    Pavilion 3 Building 29A
    Orange, CA 92868

  • UCI Health — Tustin

    1451 Irvine Blvd.
    Tustin, CA 92780

  • UCI Health — Newport Beach

    2161 San Joaquin Hills Road
    Newport Beach, CA 92660

  • UCI Health — Yorba Linda

    18637 Yorba Linda Blvd.
    Yorba Linda, CA 92886

Useful Links

  • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Pennsylvania Logo
  • University of California San Francisco Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Harvard Medical School
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • AOSpine
  • North American Spine Society
  • Global Spine Research Initiative