Cervical posterior instrumented fusion is typically performed for patients that either require further stabilization after anterior cervical fusion or to stabilize the spine as part of a different posterior cervical procedure, e.g. laminectomy. This surgery involves placing small screws and rods in the back of the cervical spine and laying down bone graft materials to allow the area to create boney fusion. This is performed through an incision or incisions at the back of the neck, and the size of the incision(s) vary depending on the number of levels involved. This is not a common surgery but sometimes required when patients have severe compression of their spinal cord.
For some patients, their spinal cord is so severely compressed that it is safer to go through the back of the neck than going through the front. As providers, it is important for us to do what is best for the patient to give them the best outcome and expectations.
Having an incision in the back of the neck will have more discomfort. Patients will require pain medication and physical therapy to progress through the healing process. The providers will set up expectations and a treatment plan for each patient to help them through their recovery. Most patients are up walking immediately after surgery. They will have restrictions on lifting and neck motion to help them heal. Physical therapy will start a few weeks after surgery to help with their symptoms. Neck bracing is not always mandatory but will be discussed if needed after surgery.
Reviewed by: Thomas Schuler, MD, FACS, FAAOS.