Colorado spine suregon, Dr. Donald Corenman reviews the potential complications of cervical hematoma in the neck and explains how to recognize this disorder.

To begin an ACDF procedure an incision is made in the neck and the muscles are retracted. The trachea and the esophagus are exposed and moved out of the way by retraction. The injured disc is then removed and a graft is placed in the disc space. A plate is then secured with screws to the side of the neck and the incision is then closed.

In some cases, these procedures do bleed. Typical small hematoma’s are not a big deal and only cause little pressure on the esophagus and no pressure on the trachea. When the drain does not function or is not recognized the hematoma can grow causing pressure on the trachea and esophagus. This pressure causes airway obstruction and hinders the ability to swallow. In that case an endotracheal tube is put down the airway so that the patient can breath.

One other problem associated with hematoma is blood gathering in the head. The red arteries bring blood up to the head and the blue veins bring blood away form the head. The veins are a low pressure system and the arteries are a high pressure system. A hematoma can compress the veins, but not the arteries, so the arteries will continue to pump blood into the head and eventually into the neck and shoulders.

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