Cervical instrumentation is a term that refers to medical hardware used in surgery on the cervical spine. Most of this hardware is designed to be used during fusion procedures to provide rigidity and strength, as well as to connect the donor graft to the vertebra. Instrumentation can include plates, screws, hooks, wires, rods and cages, as well as braces. For more information about the role of instrumentation in cervical spine surgery, contact Dr. Chetan Patel at AdventHealth Medical Group Spine Health. Call Call407-303-5452 to make an appointment.

The Types of Instrumentation Used in Cervical Spine Surgery

Depending on your condition and the type of surgery being performed, you can expect Dr. Chetan Patel to use a variety of different hardware. These include anterior plates, posterior plates, posterior wiring, anterior interbody cages and cervical braces used after surgery.

Plates – The function of plates, whether anterior or posterior, is the same. The plate is installed to provide stability and rigidity to the spine. Anterior plates are installed on the front of the spine, while posterior plates are installed on the back. In both cases, small screws will be used to affix the plate to the two levels being fused (vertebras). Between the plate(s), the surgeon will add donor bone (a graft). By using plates to secure the two levels (or more), the fusion process is encouraged, and eventually both upper and lower levels as well as the bone graft will become a single, immovable unit.

Wire instrumentation is an older technology than plates, but still plays a role in some types of cervical spine surgery. Wiring is not generally used as a standalone solution for cervical spine fixation, but is frequently used in surgeries on the upper cervical spine (as opposed to the lower cervical spine where plates and screws are the better option). In some instances, wires and screws are combined to provide better stability and fixation.

Interbody cages are made to be inserted between vertebral bodies. They can be used with bone grafts and with plates and screws, but can also be filled with synthetic graft material rather than natural bone. They can also be used on their own in some instances rather than in conjunction with other cervical instrumentation.

Braces usually take the form of collars, and are worn after surgery to help support the cervical spine. Most fusion procedures (single level) will require the use of a brace for approximately six weeks after surgery. However, multiple fusion levels will require the use of a collar for up to 12 weeks after the surgery. Many surgeons do not require their patients to use a brace, though, as it is considered unnecessary for single-level fusion procedures.

To learn more about cervical instrumentation, its uses in surgery or your options for spine treatment, contact Dr. Chetan Patel at AdventHealth Medical Group Spine Health. Call Call407-303-5452 to make an appointment for a consultation or an examination to determine what type of procedure is needed for your chronic pain.