Neck injuries from car accidents are among the most common injuries in these types of accidents and may require a cervical fusion procedure. Although whiplash – a soft tissue injury – is the most well known neck-related injury resulting from a car accident, damage to vertebrae in the neck may also occur.
In some cases, cervical fusion surgery is required, the costs of which a Des Moines personal injury lawyer may be able to help you recover in an insurance claim or lawsuit.
What is cervical fusion surgery?
Cervical fusion is a surgical procedure that joins bones in the neck to increase stability. Cervical fusion is performed by taking bone from another place in the body (such as the hip), using a bone graft, or using metal plates to create a fusion between two vertebrae.
A disc can be removed in some cases if necessary and then the vertebrae adjacent to that disc may be fused together. Some patients may even require removal of a vertebra followed by fusion.
When is a cervical fusion performed?
This procedure may be recommended following neck injuries from car accidents in order to prevent spinal cord damage. If the vertebrae become misaligned, a cervical fusion may also be performed to straighten the spine.
In addition, cervical fusion may be part of the treatment for herniated discs, fractures or other spinal injuries. If another’s negligence caused these injuries necessitating the procedure, a Des Moines personal injury lawyer can help recover the costs of treatment.
What to expect after the surgery
A cane may be helpful for patients having mobility problems immediately following the procedure. Most patients can return to their normal diets after several days when bowel function has returned.
If bone was taken from another area of the body, there may be some soreness in that area for a few weeks. A collar-type neck brace will need to be worn for several weeks, or a halo brace may be required.
Physical therapy may begin shortly after the procedure, and these costs may also be recovered by a Des Moines personal injury lawyer handling the case. It is important to follow doctor’s orders.
No driving will be permitted while any neck brace is worn and the patient should not return to work or perform strenuous activity until instructed to do so by the doctor. Short walks are good, but it is important to avoid too much exercise.
Prognosis following cervical fusion
The procedure often takes three hours to perform. It is an inpatient procedure, and patients may stay in the hospital for a couple days to recuperate. Although cervical fusion can relieve pain and other associated symptoms associated with the neck injury from the car accident, it is not always a permanent fix. Complications may occur and sometimes additional treatment or procedures may be necessary. This is also important to consider in an injury claim, as a Des Moines personal injury lawyer will also consider any future costs the victim may encounter in addition to current expenses and losses.
Risks and complications of cervical fusion
The procedure has some inherent risks and the patient may experience complications after surgery such as:
- Blood clots
- Stiffness in the neck
- Pain at the donor site
- Injury in the spinal cord or nerves
- Rejection of the bone graft
- Problems at the surgical site, such as failure of implants.
As with all surgeries, there are risks involved. Surgeries like this require anesthesia, which suppresses bodily functions. Aspiration, coughing and gagging can occur while under anesthesia. Increases in heart rate and blood pressure are also potential risks.
Help from a Des Moines Personal Injury Lawyer
Because neck injuries from car accidents can lead to long-term or even lifelong mobility issues, it’s important to seek help from a Des Moines personal injury lawyer. A lawsuit can help recover compensation necessary to pay medical bills, rehabilitative costs, and account for any other expenses or losses resulting from the accident or cervical fusion procedure.