The cervical spine (neck region) is made up of seven bones called vertebrae. The first two vertebrae are called C1 or atlas and C2 or axis. They allow maximum range of motion for the neck to move in different directions. Instability to these vertebrae, compression of nerves passing through them and degeneration of the cushioning vertebral discs can cause severe pain. Treatment involves the fusion of the C1 and C2 vertebrae, which is also called C1-C2 fixation or stabilization.

The C1-C2 fusion with spacers is performed under general anesthesia. You will lie facing down and an incision is made down the back of your neck. The bones of the C1 and C2 vertebrae are exposed. A spacer is then placed between the spinous processes of the two vertebrae. A spacer is a metal implant with either a single large hole or many small holes that help the fusion of bone, and a tapered end to help in placement at the joint. The size of the spacer used depends on the space available within the distracted joint space. Bone graft collected from the iliac crest (hip bone) or a bone bank is placed on the prepared host bone area in several pieces on all sides of the spacer. The bones are held in place with the help of screws, pins and rods, allowing the bones to heal and fuse with each other. The incision is then closed. After the surgery you will be restricted from all physical activities involving the neck for a period of 3 months.