Anterior cervical discectomy is performed by anterior approach (the front of your neck) and involves the surgical removal of a damaged disc in the cervical spine. Depending on your particular symptoms and imaging findings, one or more discs may be removed.
After the disc is removed, the empty space between the vertebrae is filled with a spacer bone graft to prevent the vertebrae from collapsing on each other, acting as a bridge to create a spinal fusion. The graft and vertebrae are fixed in place with metal plates and screws.
The body then begins its natural healing process and new bone cells grow around the graft to form one solid piece of bone over time.
Depending on your medical condition, you may need clearance from your primary care physician or another specialist, such as a cardiologist. Certain medications may need to be stopped prior to surgery as well.
Preoperative blood work and testing are also required several days before the scheduled procedure.
Your surgical incision will be made at the front of your neck and is superficially closed with medical skin adhesive. Adhesive strips may be applied after staple removal to bring the edges of an incision together. These strips should be kept completely dry for the first 24 hours, and usually fall off within 7-10 days.
After hospitalization, you will be released to either your home or a rehab facility, depending on your condition. A follow-up appointment in our clinic will then be scheduled, and you will be prescribed narcotic pain medications to be used for a limited time frame.
We recommend that our patients drink lots of water and eat high-fiber foods to prevent constipation that can often occur from these medications. Over-the-counter laxatives and stool softeners can be used, if needed, as well.
You will be restricted from lifting anything overhead for six weeks after the surgery. Your providers will discuss with you a date when you will be able to resume driving.
What You Can Do to Help with Recovery
We strongly encourage our patients to quit all tobacco use, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigar pipes, chewing tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. The nicotine in these products decreases blood circulation, which in turn slows the healing of wounds and increases the risk of postoperative infection.