Posterior Cervical Decompression and Fusion
This procedure is performed to alleviate the pressure on the spinal cord and cervical spinal nerves as a result of cervical disc herniations or other degenerative conditions. When an intervertebral disc becomes herniated the gelatinous disc nucleus material (nucleus pulposus) is forced out from the disc. This herniated disc material then enters the spinal canal where it begins to press against the spinal cord or spinal nerves. This often causes pain both in the area of the herniation as well as pain in the neck, shoulder and arms. Removing the disc and any bone spurs will alleviate the pressure on the nerves or spinal cord, which relieves the pain.
Posterior Cervical Decompression and Fusion Approach
Depending on the number of levels involved, a small longitudinal incision is made in the back of the neck in the midline right over the affected segment. The muscles and soft tissues are moved to the side to reveal the spinal bones and processes. Once that is done, the surgeon will determine if a laminectomy (removal of the domed portion of the spinal canal) or a foraminotomy (removal of bone spurs at the spot where the nerves come through the spinal bone hole) is needed. Next, two screws are placed on either side of the bones and held in place by a rod on each side of the spine. The bony surfaces are decorticated and a bone graft is placed, which will fuse the bones together over time. The incision then closed with a stitch and a bandage applied to the area.