You are the only one
who can decide to have surgery. It is important
that you take ownership of this decision, recognizing
the limitations your particular physical condition
places on the potential success of each of the treatment
If you choose to have surgery, your
physical condition and your mental attitude will determine
your body's ability to heal. You must approach your surgery
with confidence, a positive attitude, and a thorough
understanding of the anticipated outcome. You should
have realistic goals - and work steadily to achieve
The decision to have or not to have
surgery includes weighing the risks and benefits involved. You will
make the final decision, so ask questions about
anything you do not understand.
care is tailored to each person's needs and differences,
not all information presented here will apply to
the patient's treatment or its outcome. Seek the
advice of your physician and other members of the
health care team for specific information about the
patient's medical condition.
What is it?
Anterior cervical discectomy is an operation
performed on the upper spine to relieve pressure on one
or more nerve roots, or on the spinal cord. The procedure
is explained by the words anterior (front), cervical
(neck), and discectomy (cutting out the disc).
Why is it done?
Neck and arm pain, among other symptoms,
may occur when an intervertebral disc herniates.
This happens, either suddenly with injury or slowly over
time, when some of the disc's jelly-like center (the
nucleus pulposus) bulges or ruptures through its tough,
fibrous outer ring (the annulus fibrosus) and presses
on a nerve (Fig 1C, above).
When a disc ruptures
in the cervical spine, it puts pressure on one or more
nerve roots (often called nerve root compression) or
on the spinal cord, as seen in (Figure 2). This
pressure causes symptoms in the neck, arms, and even
legs. Further pressure may be caused by rough edges of
bone, called bone spurs, that naturally build
up around some herniated discs.
this operation, the cervical spine is reached through
a small incision in the front of your neck. After the
soft tissues of the neck are separated, the intervertebral
disc and bone spurs are removed. The space left between
the vertebrae may be left open or filled with a small
piece of bone. In time the vertebrae may fuse, or join
the pre-formed bone graft may be obtained from a bone
bank. It will not be rejected by your body, because it
is avascular (contains no blood cells). In some circumstances,
or if your surgeon prefers, the bone graft might instead
be removed from your own hip through a second incision.
Successful recovery from anterior cervical
discectomy requires that you approach the operation and
recovery with confidence based on a thorough understanding
of each process. Your surgeon has the training and expertise
to correct physical defects by performing the operation;
he and the rest of the health care team will support
your body's efforts to heal its damaged tissues. Full
recovery will also depend on you having a strong, positive
attitude, setting small, realistic goals for improvement,
and working steadily to accomplish each goal.