Patient Education Library
Cervical Spondylitic Myelopathy - ACDF
Your spinal cord, spinal nerves, and arteries that supply blood travel through the protective cervical spinal canal. The spinal cord segments in the neck are indicated by C1-C8. Nerves exit the spine at different levels. Compression of the spinal cord from cervical spondylitic myelopathy most frequently occurs at C4-C7. The nerves from the spinal cord at this level supply the shoulders, arms, and hands.
Compression of the spinal cord most frequently occurs at the C4-C7 levels. The nerve roots extending from the spinal cord may be compressed as well. Compression can cause damage to the spinal cord, impaired blood flow, and neurological dysfunction.
There are several factors which may contribute to cervical spondylitic myelopathy including:
_____ Osteophytes or bone spurs
_____ Arthritis in the neck can cause the facet joints to enlarge
_____ Thickened ligaments in the spinal canal, particularly the ligamentum flavum, can narrow the spinal canal
_____ Dislocated or subluxed vertebrae( bones that have moved out of position)
_____ People that are born with a small spinal canal
_____ “Wear and tear” or trauma
Sometimes doctors inject dye into the spinal column to enhance the X-ray images in a procedure called a myelogram. A myelogram can indicate if there is pressure on your spinal cord or nerves from herniated discs, bone spurs, or tumors.
ACDF surgery is performed through an incision at the front of the neck. Your surgeon will make an incision approximately two inches long carefully avoiding your throat and airway. Your muscles and arteries will be moved aside with care to allow access to the vertebrae. Your surgeon will remove abnormal disc and bone structures.
The symptoms of some cases of cervical spondylitic myelopathy may be relieved with non-surgical treatments. Neck immobilization, such as with a collar or bracing, and medications to reduce pain and inflammation are used. Physical therapy exercises and pain relieving modalities can help ease symptoms while strengthening the neck. If symptoms do not improve or become worse, surgery may be necessary.
It is important to adhere to your restrictions and exercise program when you return home. You should use proper body mechanics during all activities. Do not smoke. Smoking increases the risk of surgical complications and may hinder the bone from fusing. If you have difficulty quitting smoking on your own, ask your doctor about medications and resources that may help you.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.