For more than a century, the treatment of cervical disorders has been greatly improved. The researches for the complications of cervical spine surgery have been enhanced during the same period. The objective of this paper is to summarize the progressive results of researches on the complications of cervical spine surgery through literature review. Common surgical complications include hematoma, dural tear, postoperative infection, C5 nerve root palsy, recurrent/superior laryngeal nerve injury, axial pain, etc. Rare complications such as esophageal injury, Horner's syndrome, vertebral artery injury, dysphagia and dyspnea caused by posterior upper cervical spine surgery have also been reported in recent years. The application of cervical instruments provides great support for the improvement of clinical efficacy. However, reports about the related complications also increases year by year, including implant displacement or broken, and special complications associated with cervical artificial disc replacement. Prevention and treatment of complications is the key in clinical practice. For those complications which already have relatively clear causes, such as soft tissue or spinal cannel hematoma, recurrent/superior laryngeal nerve injury, dural tear, accurate and effective operation is highly suggested. However, there's still no standard of operating process for preventing the complications (C5 nerve root palsy, dysphagia, axial pain, etc.), whose pathogeny are still unclear, and further studies are needed in the future. Instrument related complications caused by mal-operation or abnormal patient condition can be effectively controlled through correct medical procedures. Those instrument shortcomings of material or design aspects need to be improved by the auxiliary of cutting-edge technology for further improvement of the results of clinical application.
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