Six weeks ago, I had a cervical spine (neck) fusion. Everything is going well and my pain is much less. Now, the doctor wants to take more X-rays. I've been poked, prodded, and tested to my limit. Is this really necessary?
The doctor will use the X-rays to assess for success of the surgery. Even if you're feeling good, the graft may not be holding. When bone is taken from one site and donated to another, problems can occur. The graft may fragment or break into tiny pieces. It may collapse causing settling of the bones.
X-rays after cervical spine fusion can show how well the graft is holding up, literally. The doctor will look for loss of bone height, narrowed disc spaces, or fractures in the bone graft. If a metal plate was also used to hold the spine, then X-rays are reviewed for loose screws, cracked plates, or other problems.
Finding problems early can prevent a worse result later. Don't skimp on this follow-up visit. Follow your doctor's advice closely for the best result.
Jeffrey R. McConnell, MD, et al. A Prospective Randomized Comparison of Coralline Hydroxyapatite With Autograft in Cervical Interbody Fusion. In Spine. February 15, 2003. Vol. 28. No. 4. Pp. 317-323.
*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.