Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Neck FAQ

Question:

After a cervical spine (neck) fusion I had a serious problem with swallowing. It lasted for about a month and then went away. No one seemed to know anything about it. What can you tell me?

Answer:

Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing occurs in up to 60 percent of patients having anterior cervical spine fusion. Researchers say it's very common and highly underreported. From imaging studies it looks like the cause may be soft tissue swelling. Sometimes a pocket of blood called a hematoma puts pressure on the local nerves causing dysphagia. Infection is another possible cause. Most of these problems are temporary. As healing takes place, the swelling or results of local bleeding are slowly resolved. Most soft tissue healing takes place in the first four weeks as you experienced. Jonathan R. Stieber, MD, et al. Anterior Cervical Decompression and Fusion with Plate Fixation as an Outpatient Procedure. In The Spine Journal. September 2005. Vol. 5. No. 5. Pp.503-507.

*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.
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