Cervical Spine Surgery for Nick Collins of Green Bay Packers
Saturday, 08 October 2011 13:44

NFL's Green Bay Packers safety Nick Collins recently had cervical spine surgery to repair a herniated disc in an attempt to preserve his football career.

"The doctor was very clear about it in terms of the surgery," Collins' agent, Alan Herman, told a beat reporter. "Nick totally understands the need to do this. This was the way to go. It's going to give him a chance. He would like the possibility of playing again."

The physicians treating Collins believe a disc in his cervical spine was injured from a collision with Carolina Panther Jonathan Stewart, whose thigh connected with Collins' head.

"It was a fluke hit," Herman said to the beat reporter. "It was a player with his neck extended at impact. These guys have these collisions every day. This one, he was just hit the wrong way. He was in an unfortunate position on the tackle."

As a result, Collins was benched for the rest of the year, and spine surgeons decided to perform a back fusion. This type of cervical spine surgery connects two consecutive vertebrae on either side of an excised disc in order to stabilize movement. This can be done using a bone graft harvested from another part of the patient's body, such as the pelvis. Back fusion may also be done using a donor cadaver graft or synthetic material, and held in place with special cages, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Though Collins' surgery was successful, everyone will have to wait six months to get a better idea of how well he will progress.

"You can't gauge what will happen, whether there will be any narrowing with the (spinal) canal or remaining tissue," Herman said. "That will be the determining factor as far as his career. It's all based on the healing process."

Collins may resume normal everyday activities - excluding football - while wearing a hard collar to stabilize his head for a few weeks, according to the beat reporter.

Endoscopic spine surgery, which is performed through smaller incisions that limit the size of the working area, is an option that may reduce patients' recovery time and pain. Procedures such as endoscopic cervical discectomy can be done on an outpatient basis with local anesthesia. The patient remains awake while the orthopedic surgeon uses a laser to resize or reshape the offending disc, which may otherwise be removed through the small incision.

Endoscopic discectomy procedures may be followed by an alternative to fusion known as lateral lumbar interbody fusion (XLIF). This surgery may be performed through the side of the body, avoiding disruption to any organs in the front or any muscles in the rear.

If you suffer from chronic back pain and have questions about your diagnosis, contact us at 877-722-6008 to speak with a spine specialist.