Cervical Spine Procedures

The cervical spine (neck region) is one of the most important and agile parts of your body. It begins at the base of the skull and consists of 7 bones separated by intervertebral discs that allow the spine to move freely. The neck has the greatest amount of movement of any area of the spine and is also responsible for protecting the spinal cord and supporting the skull. Because of its vital function in our everyday lives, injury or disease of the cervical spine is a very serious condition. Dr. Rawlins specializes in a variety of cervical spine procedures customized to treat your condition.

Dr. Rawlins treats the following Cervical Spine Conditions:

Herniated Disc and Degeneration - Intervertebral discs in between the bones of the vertebrae help to cushion the bones and allow for smooth and painless movement. Symptoms can arise when part of the disc material begins to protrude, known as a disc herniations, or when the disc begins to change, known as disc degeneration. These conditions can cause neck pain that also radiates down the arm and weakness or numbness in the shoulder, arm or hand, as the different vertebrae in the cervical spine affect these areas. The pain comes from the affected disc putting pressure on a specific nerve root which determines where the pain is felt. Treatment for a herniated or degenerated disc includes immobilization of the neck, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy or surgery.

Cervical Spine Stenosis - As spinal degeneration occurs naturally with age, bone spurs may form and cause the spinal canal to become smaller. These bone spurs press on the spinal cords or nerve roots and cause symptoms similar to that of a herniated disc, except that the pressure is applied to the entire spinal cord. This condition can also be known as cervical myelopathy. Pain can spread from the neck and back all the way down the arms and legs. It can also cause a loss of control and strength in the arms and legs. Surgery is the only effective treatment in relieving pressure on the spinal cord.

Cervical Trauma - Cervical trauma is a common and treatable condition that usually occurs as a result of falls or motor vehicle accidents. The cervical spine is the area of the spine most likely to be injured in injuries. A MRI or CT scan can help to diagnose the severity and exact location of the injury. Depending on the extent of the injury, anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy and life adjustments are diagnosed to reduce the risk of long-term complications.

Cervical Deformity - Cervical deformities can be congenital or a result of trauma, other spine diseases or surgery complications. These deformities occur when the cervical spine curves forward. Cervical deformities can cause neck pain and a reduced range of motion, but can lead to paralysis if it is severe and left untreated. Physical therapy or surgery can help correct cervical deformities.

Spinal Infections - Spinal infections occur as a result of bacteria or fungi that have traveled to the spine and can occur after surgery or trauma. Infections can include abscesses and lesions and may occur in any area of the spine. Infections can cause back pain, fever, chills and muscle spasms. Treatment options include intravenous antibiotics or antifungal therapy or surgery.

Dr. Rawlins provides the following surgeries to treat Cervical Spine Conditions:

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion - This surgery removes an intervertebral disc and/or bone spurs that are putting pressure on nerve roots. This condition is a result of a herniated or degenerated disc. The removed disc may be replaced with a small bone graft which will allow the vertebrae to fuse together over time. The space may also be left open. As the name describes, this procedure is done through the front, or anterior, of the body. An incision is made in the front of the neck, to one side. Removing the herniated disc relieves neck and arm pain, among other symptoms.

Cervical Disc Replacement - Disc replacement helps to relieve the same problems as discectomy and fusion, but instead replaces the degenerated disc with an artificial one to act in the same way as the replaced disc. Natural movement is preserved and complications from the bone fusion of the previous surgery are avoided. This procedure is also performed through the front of the neck. Complications can include failure of the implant or spontaneous spine fusion.

Cervical Vertebral Corpectomy - A corpectomy relieves pressure put on the spine due to spinal stenosis. The front part of the spinal cord is removed and bone grafts are used to fill the space. A corpectomy is similar to a discectomy, but more complex since a larger area is being removed.

Posterior Cervical Laminectomy With or Without Fusion - A cervical laminectomy relieves pressure caused by spinal stenosis. In this procedure, a small section of bone that covers the back of the spinal cord, called the lamina, is removed. A laminectomy is performed through the back of the neck. The removal of this bone and any bone spurs relieves the pressure on the spinal cord. The remaining spine bones can be connected by titanium metal rods with screw attached to bones on each side. The procedure can also be done without fusion.

We also provide surgical treatment for the excision and reconstruction of vertebral tumors and complex cervical trauma, depending on the type and severity of the condition. Dr. Rawlins is specially trained in treating all cervical spine conditions with care and precision.

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