Single-level fusions of the cervical spine have a good success rate. Studies report as high as 96 per cent (or better) fusion rates. It's true that patients are more likely to have problems with the donor site than the actual fusion.
Most often the donor bone is taken from the patient's own pelvic bone. Using your own bone for the graft is called an autograft. Possible postoperative problems at the donor site include pain, difficulty walking, and infection. Persistent drainage from the donor site and failure to heal can also occur. Some patients report discomfort over the donor site while wearing clothes.
Most of these complications are more common when this operation was first introduced. Today as many as one-third of the patients with autografts may report one or more problems. Rarely does anyone have all of these problems. But symptoms can last for months to years without improving. Patients are advised ahead of time what might happen, not necessarily what will happen.