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What should you expect after anterior cervical fusion surgery?

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After undergoing anterior cervical fusion surgery, the patient can expect to follow a physical therapy regimen that includes special exercises and tests, according to Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. The patient must also wear a neck brace and follow a rehabilitation plan that can last for several months.

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The procedure may require a short hospital stay to enable the surgeon and nurses to monitor the patient's eating habits, states Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. To allow the fused part of the neck to heal properly, the patient has to keep his neck stabilized. This is sometimes done with metal plates instead of a neck brace to allow the patient to move his neck more freely. Low-stress exercises, such as stationary bicycling and stretching, are utilized to increase movement and flexibility.

Anterior cervical fusion surgery is like other invasive surgeries in that it carries serious risks and complications, including infection and nerve damage, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. If the bones do not fuse properly, the patient may require additional surgeries involving more grafting, asserts Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. Although a major purpose of anterior cervical fusion surgery is to provide pain relief, the procedure can create more pain in the future if the graft is not properly aligned.

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