I had my neck fused 12 years ago. At the time of the operation, I was told to expect another operation when the nearby levels start to break down too. So far, so good. I've gone this long without problems. Will I really need another operation?

A recent study from Belgium followed 180 patients for up to 15 years after cervical spine fusion. They found patients had disc degeneration at the levels above and below the fusion site as more and more time went by.

Although 92 percent had degenerative changes on X-ray, only six percent needed another operation. Reoperation is done only when there are clear signs of nerve pressure or spinal cord compression. Even then, patients usually must try other treatment before a second surgery is advised.