What is a Cervical Interbody Fusion?
A cervical interbody fusion, also known as an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, refers to the complete removal of an intervertebral disc and its replacement with a bone, plastic or metal spacer and bone graft or bone substitute. This causes fusion of the two adjacent vertebrae into one solid mass.
It can be performed at one or more levels. Sometimes an anterior plate or posterior wiring, plates, screws or rods are used to further immobilize the segment while it is fusing.
The procedure is performed where there is persisting pain, numbness or weakness, which has been shown to be due to a damaged intervertebral disc or to anterior spinal cord compression, and has not responded to conservative treatment.
Where there is bowel or bladder dysfunction, severe muscle weakness or severe pain that is not controlled by strong pain relievers, immediate surgery may be recommended to prevent permanent nerve damage and weakness. Immediate fusion may also be recommended in the case of traumatic vertebral fracture or dislocation.
The goals of a cervical interbody fusion are to stabilize the spine and remove compression of the adjacent spinal cord. This should lead to improved function and less pain.
The metal or plastic hardware provides immediate stability while the bone fusion occurs over the following 3-12 months.