Posterior Cervical Fusion
Overview and Indications
Posterior Cervical Fusion (PCF) is the general term used to describe the technique of surgically mending two or more cervical spine bones together along the sides of the bone using a posterior incision. Bone graft is placed along the sides the spine bones, which over time, fuses together. PCF may be performed in conjunction with or without a posterior decompression (laminectomy) and/or use of metal screws/rods. Nowadays, metal screws and rods are almost always used, which adds immediate stability and increases the rate at which the bone successfully mends together.
PCF is most commonly performed for patients with cervical fractures or instability, but is also performed for a variety of other spinal conditions, such as tumors, infections and deformity. PCF may also be performed in conjunction with anterior cervical surgery, especially when multiple levels are involved.
Most patients are able to go home three to five days after surgery. Before patients go home, physical therapists and occupational therapists work with patients and instruct them on proper techniques of getting in and out of bed and walking independently. Patients are instructed to avoid excessive bending and twisting of the neck in the acute postoperative period (first one to two months). Patients can gradually begin to bend and twist their neck after two to three months after the fusion solidifies and the pain subsides. Patients are also instructed to avoid heavy lifting in the postoperative period (first two to four months).
Most patients are required to wear a neck brace after surgery. This reduces the stress on the neck area and helps improve bone healing and decrease pain in the postoperative period.