Indications for Surgery:
A posterior cervical fusion (PCF) is most often performed for patients who have cervical vertebral fractures or instability. It is also used to treat tumors, infections, and deformity. The PCF is sometimes used in conjunction with anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), especially when multiple contiguous levels are involved. The goal with a PCF is to stabilize the spine so that pain or deformity is reduced.
A patient lies facedown and an incision is made along the back of the neck. The surgeon will resect the soft tissue to access the spine. Screws will be placed in the lateral mass on each side of thee vertebrae. A laminectomy and decompression will then be performed to relived compression and associated paid and weakness on the spinal cord or nerve roots. The surgeon will then add rods to the previously placed screws to complete the fusion construct and link all vertebrae together. Bone and/or allograft is then placed along the construct to allow for fusion across all segments.
Patients are usually discharged from the hospital after about 3-5 days. It is recommended that patients avoid excessive bending or twisting of the neck for 1-2 months and heavy lifting or exercise for the first 2-4 month. Fusions are usually complete after 6 months and with the proper physical therapy and rehabilitation patients can enjoy a return to normalcy.
The PCF is a procedure that is used to treat a wide array of diagnoses and is a relatively safe and routine way to achieve pain relief.