As you prepare for a fusion, your surgeon will want to know your medical history in order to identify anything that may affect safe conditions for anesthesia and bone healing.
It’s important to pay attention to your nutrition in the weeks leading up to surgery. Diets high in protein, calcium and vitamin D help in the bone healing process. In addition, patients should stop smoking or chewing tobacco four weeks before the surgery, and several months after, because nicotine impairs bone healing.
Alcohol, caffeine and herbals can cause bleeding problems and should not be taken one week before and two weeks after surgery.
Also, some medications should not be taken prior to or after the procedure, such as anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen. Check with your surgeon for recommendations about these.
Your physician will also discuss the possible risks associated with neck surgery. The main concerns include infection, inadequate bone healing, loosening of the screws or cage implant, or persisting pain from scar tissue. Additionally, because your doctor has to work around the area that controls your swallowing and your vocal chords, there are occasional problems with speech or swallowing. While all of these risks are rare, any one of them could create a need for future surgery.
Theoretically, because the surgery is done so close to your spinal cord, paralysis is possible, though rare. Be sure to discuss these risks and any additional concerns you may have with your surgeon.