Cervical spinal surgery is a delicate complex operation used for problems in the part of the spine that run through the neck area and which involve the vertebrae, disks, and nerves. The cervical area refers to seven vertebrae and eight pairs of spinal nerves (C1 to C8).
The medical conditions that people commonly experience in this area are herniation and stenosis and both need surgery as a treatment method.
A herniated intervertebral disk or slipped disk as it is more commonly known as occurs when a part or all parts of a disk move from its place or break open due to injury or strain and force through a weakened disk. This places pressure on spinal nerves located inside the disk causing extreme pain, weakness and numbness.
A slipped disk usually occurs in the lower back or lumbar area of the spine and affects middle-aged and older men more often than any other population. Others are born with the condition.
Spinal stenosis is narrowing of the spinal column due to age as disks start to shrink when they become drier. The narrowing can also be due to the swapping of bones and ligaments due to arthritis or inflammation. The narrowing condition puts pressure on the spinal cord.
There are various methods of cervical spinal surgery depending on the origin of the problem. If the problem, for example, is just one herniated disk, it may only need a surgical cut either in the front or back part of the body and simply removed. But, if the problem is more than one disk, the surgeon needs to fuse the directory to make it stable before removing the affected disks.
Cervical spinal fusion can be done in three ways:
• Bone taken from another part of the body or through bone graft is used as a between vertebrae to promote growth of a new bone.
• Instead of bone, metal implants may also be used to hold vertebrae together until the spine is stabilized with the growth of new bone. Metal plates can be used as brace as it is screwed into the bone to fuse vertebrae that are nest to each other.
• The spine is fused after the entire vertebrae are removed or the spinal disk is removed and the adjoining vertebrae are fused.
Among the two common problems of the cervical spine, spinal stenosis is more complex to handle and manage and surgery is quite long and tedious. It could involve both a surgical cut to relieve spinal nerves of the pressure and then a successful spinal fusion to if removal of the bone caused instability in the spine.