22 July 2013
Vertebral fusion surgery on the upper (cervical) spine is often effective in professional sportspeople, with patients generally able to return to competitive sport within a year of their operation, research has shown.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre looked at the outcomes of a particular type of spinal surgery called anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) in 15 professional footballers and wrestlers.
The procedure is sometimes carried out if one or more of the spinal discs have become damaged, causing pain and reduced mobility.
It involves the removal of the affected spinal disc and the insertion of a bone graft to join the vertebrae together and prevent them from collapsing.
A report published in the journal Neurosurgery reveals that 13 of the sportspeople were able to return to sport within two to 12 months, with the average patient returning after six months.
Five of the patients subsequently retired after returning to their sport for between one and three years, while the other eight continued to take part.
However, the study authors noted that patients may have an increased risk of disease in the sections of the spine on either side of the fused vertebrae in the future.
Posted by Philip Briggs
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