This procedure is performed to remove pressure from the spinal cord or nerves from cervical disc herniations or degenerative disc disease and bone spur formation.
The herniated disc can put pressure on the nerves supplying the arms often causing neck pain as well as arm pain, numbness or tingling. The surgery is performed through the front of the neck, therefore avoiding muscle cutting and minimizing postoperative pain.
After removal of the ruptured disc, the pressure on the nerves and/or spinal cord is alleviated which usually relieves the painful symptoms. After the painful disc is removed, a plastic cage filled with bone graft is put in its place to maintain the space between the vertebra and to fuse the two bones together.
A metal plate is often placed in front of the bone graft with four small screws to maintain stability while fusion takes place. Most patients require the use of a cervical collar after surgery for 4-8 weeks, depending on bone quality, to avoid motion while the bones are trying to heal.
Hospitalization for 1-2 days is recommended for observation and to reduce swelling with the use of steroidal anti-inflammatories. Patients typically get significant relief in arm symptoms shortly after the operation and heavy lifting and extensive neck motion should be avoided for 6-12 weeks while the bones are fusing.