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Understanding the Different Types of Neck Surgeries

Understanding the Different Types of Neck Surgeries

The cervical spine (neck) is a complex structure made up of vertebrae, discs, muscles, and nerves.

It’s also the shortest spinal segment, more mobile than any other portion, and plays a crucial role in supporting the head. This makes your neck vulnerable to various conditions and injuries that may require surgical intervention.

Spine specialist and board-certified neurosurgeon Dr. Patrick Doherty and our team at Yale Neurosurgery New London always prefer conservative management over neck surgery whenever possible.

However, should you need surgery, Dr. Doherty combines significant surgical skills with advanced minimally invasive options and state-of-the-art technology that helps improve surgical outcomes and speed healing.

Different types of neck surgery

The type of cervical spine surgery Dr. Doherty may recommend depends on the condition targeted for treatment. 

For instance, disc removal (discectomy) may be your best option for a herniated disc that is compressing nerves and not responding to conservative treatments. For increased spinal stability, discectomy often includes spinal fusion.

Some of the more common types of neck surgery include:

Cervical disc replacement (CDR)

Cervical discs damaged by injury or disease can press on your spinal cord or spinal nerves, causing worsening pain, numbness, and decreased mobility. When conservative treatments don’t provide adequate relief, Dr. Doherty may recommend replacing the damaged disc(s) with an artificial disc.

Disc replacement is an alternative to spinal fusion that can relieve pain while maintaining neck mobility.

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF)

This minimally invasive procedure offers relief from nerve root and spinal cord compression caused by a herniated or diseased disc. During the surgery, Dr. Doherty removes the damaged disc, fills the disc space with a bone graft, and fuses the adjacent vertebrae together.

Posterior cervical laminectomy or laminoplasty

Both procedures involve making more space for the spinal cord. During a laminectomy, your surgeon removes parts of the vertebrae (the lamina). During laminoplasty, your surgeon reshapes the bone to create space.

Dr. Doherty may recommend one of these procedures to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves due to spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal).

Cervical foraminotomy

Cervical foraminotomy is a minimally invasive procedure Dr. Doherty may recommend to enlarge the gap (foramen) where nerve roots exit the spinal canal, relieving pressure on compressed nerves.

Cervical spinal fusion

Cervical spinal fusion joins two or more cervical vertebrae together so they heal as a single, solid bone. This procedure stabilizes the cervical spine after an injury, a previous surgery, or due to a condition like cervical degenerative disc disease.

Cervical corpectomy

During cervical corpectomy, Dr. Doherty removes one or more vertebrae and the adjacent discs, then fuses the spine to increase stability. A corpectomy is usually recommended to relieve spinal cord or nerve root pressure resulting from various conditions such as tumors, fractures, or severe stenosis.

Posterior cervical fusion

A posterior surgical approach, coming from the back of the neck, is sometimes the best option for treating congenital deformities, trauma, a tumor, or severe rheumatoid arthritis affecting the neck’s stability. Screws, plates, rods, and/or connectors attached during surgery help stabilize the spine and relieve pain.

For more information about cervical spine surgery or other services we offer, schedule an evaluation at Yale Neurosurgery New London today. 

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