Answering Your Questions About Preparing for Surgery for Anterior Cervical Fusion

November 24th, 2014

 If you have suffered from chronic arm or neck pain, weakness, and numbness, and everything you have tried so far has been ineffective, your doctor may recommend a decompression and fusion surgery.  Surgery for anterior cervical fusion , also known as anterior cervical decompression and fusion, can remove the compressive structure which is causing you pain and stabilize the spine. This procedure can eliminate painful motion and the development of further degenerative changes at that level.  At Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, our surgeons perform over three thousand spinal surgeries each year, and we are happy to use this expertise to help answer your questions about preparing for surgery for anterior cervical fusion. 

What Are the Risks of Surgery for Anterior Cervical Fusion?
The risk involved in anterior cervical decompression and fusion surgery are rare, but as with any surgery, they do exist, and it is important to be aware of unusual events that may occur.  These include damage to the spinal cord or esophagus, failure for the fusion to properly heal, nerve root damage, bleeding, and infection.  However, while these rare risks do exist, it is most important for patients to focus on the proactive steps they can take to be prepared for a healthy, successful surgery and recovery. 
What Steps Should I Take To Be Prepared for Surgery?
First and foremost, it is important to maximize your initial health before your surgery for anterior cervical fusion.  When your body is as strong and healthy as possible to begin with, you have greater chances for a successful surgery and swift recovery. Continue to practice the healthy habits already established in your life, and check out the other steps below to see how else you can begin to prepare for your surgery today. 
If you are currently a smoker, our doctors recommend that you quit prior to your surgery.  Quitting can significantly improve your body’s ability to heal, which is an important part of anterior cervical decompression and fusion surgery. Smoking cessation also helps patients by lowering their level of pain from disc degeneration. 
Finally, it is important that you take the time to prepare for your recovery.  Because an important part of any operation is the healing process that follows, you want to make sure that your actions post-surgery support the work that has been done. 
How Should I Prepare for Recovery?
Although you may be able to return home a day or two after your surgery, the full process of recovery, including physical therapy, can take two to three months.  You will need to avoid driving during the first week or two of recovery, and ought not to lift anything of significant weight for several weeks.  In order to be prepared for these factors of your recovery, it is important to make prior plans for assistance.  You will need help performing chores that involve driving and lifting, such as getting groceries.  
If you have more questions about preparing for surgery for anterior cervical fusion, contact Rothman Orthopaedic Institute today! 
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