The occiput is the back portion of the skull that sits at the top of the neck. The cervical spine is the segment of vertebrae that runs through the neck. Occipital-cervical fusion stabilizes the juncture between these two segments. This procedure is necessary for certain congenital anomalies, spontaneous dislocations, or destabilizing traumatic injuries to the joint between the top of the cervical spine and the base of the skull. The goal of this fusion is to prevent an unstable joint from leading to injury to the spinal cord or the critical brain structures at the skull base. Bone grafts and/or screws may be used in the area of the spine to be fused. Fusion of new bone takes about three months and continues to gain strength over the next one to two years. Until then, the neck muscles hold the graft in place. After the fusion is completely healed, the screws are typically left in place unless they cause the patient discomfort.