Cervical Spine Surgery
The cervical spine is one of the most intricate parts of the anatomy, as well as the most mobile part of the spinal cord. Problems occurring in the cervical spine are considered extremely serious and should be dealt with quickly. Actions as simple as tilting, nodding or shaking your head are functions of the cervical spine's bones, which can be severely limited by a debilitating disease or injury to the cervical spine.
Some conditions that may affect the cervical spine include:
- Herniated Disc
- Cervical Spine Stenosis
- Cervical Trauma
- Cervical Vertebral Tumor
- Spinal Infection
Herniated Disc, also known as a "slipped disc", is a spinal condition that manifests when the outer ring of the intervertebral disc either weakens or tears to such a degree that the soft inside (the nucleus pulposus) may bulge out of its cavity. This usually causes severe pain, especially when natural inflammatory responses aggravate the condition. In the cervical spine specifically, the most vulnerable junctions are those between the fifth and sixth, and sixth and seventh vertebrae.
Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that causes compression and pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. This can be a function of age, as the bones wear down, or a congenital defect, aggravating the maturing spine of a child. Men are generally less likely to suffer from stenosis due to their naturally larger cervical canals than women.
Cervical Trauma can result in debilitating effects on the patient's ability to function normally. Injuries to vertebrae C4 through C6 can result in complete loss of biceps, shoulder, hand or wrist function, while C7 generally only lowers manual dexterity. Damage to the C1 through C3 vertebrae is much more dangerous, usually impairing the patient's ability to breathe and necessitating the use of a ventilator.
Cervical Vertebral Tumor is very rare and can occur as an anomaly originating from either the bone or the spinal cord itself. Both instances are uncommon and difficult to diagnose due to sharing similar symptoms with other spinal conditions. Tumors are generally one of the least likely causes to be considered. Evaluations such as family history, X-rays and CT scans are extremely valuable and will usually be ordered by the doctor quickly in order to achieve a successful diagnosis early.
Spinal Infection of the cervical spine is somewhat uncommon, especially when compared to the more vulnerable thoracic spine. However, infections can occur due to bacterial, viral or fungal invasion of the epidural space or surrounding tissues. These are normally not problematic with abundant use of antibiotics, and consequent surgical removal of abscesses which house the infectious agents.
It is important to note that surgical correction of any previous spinal problem, including infection, puts the patient at a higher risk for future infection than the general population, which is further exacerbated by traits such as smokers, malnourished individuals, and immune-suppressed individuals just to name a few. Statistically, males have been observed as being more vulnerable to infection, possibly due to their larger cervical canals providing ample space for foreign body reproduction.
If you have any further questions regarding the brain and spine surgeries, please call us today to schedule a consultation.