Cervical discectomy is surgery to remove one or more discs from the neck. The disc is the pad that separates the neck vertebrae; ectomy means to take out. Usually a Percutaneous Endoscopic Lumbar Discectomy is combined with a fusion of the two vertebrae that are separated by the disc. In some cases, this procedure is done without a fusion. A cervical discectomy without a fusion may be suggested for younger patients between 20 and 45 years old who have symptoms due to a herniated disc.
Anterior cervical spinal fusion surgeries are commonly done in conjunction with an anterior cervical discectomy. For many patients, cervical spinal fusion surgery (fusing one vertebra to another) is often done to eliminate motion at a vertebral segment. Decreasing the motion at a painful motion segment should decrease the pain at that segment. Achieving the fusion also serves to maintain adequate space for the decompressed spinal cord and/or nerve roots. The fusion may also prevent the spine from falling into a collapsed deformity (kyphosis).
What parts of the neck are involved?
Surgeons usually perform this procedure through the front of the neck. This is called the anterior neck region. Key structures include ligaments, bones, intervertebral discs, spinal cord, spinal nerves and the neural foramina. Surgery is occasionally done through the back, or posterior region, of the neck. Important structures in this area include the ligaments and bones, especially the lamina bones.
How will I prepare for surgery?
The decision to proceed with surgery must be made jointly by you and your surgeon. You should understand as much about the procedure as possible. If you have concerns or questions, you should talk to your surgeon.
Once you decide on surgery, your surgeon may suggest a complete physical examination by your regular doctor. This exam helps ensure that you are in the best possible condition to undergo the operation.
On the day of your surgery, you will probably be admitted to the hospital early in the morning. You shouldn't eat or drink anything after midnight the night before.
What happens during the operation?
Cervical discectomy is commonly done through the anterior (front) of the neck. This is called anterior cervical discectomy. However, when many pieces of the herniated disc have squeezed into the posterior (back) of the spine, surgeons may need to operate through the back of the neck using a procedure called posterior cervical discectomy.
Patients are given a general anesthesia to put them to sleep during most spine surgeries. As you sleep, your breathing may be assisted with a ventilator. A ventilator is a device that controls and monitors the flow of air to the lungs.
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