Cervical Discectomy

People with acute and chronic neck pain or other disorders that affect the cervical spine, an anterior cervical discectomy is recommended.

The human spine is divided into three sections namely the the cervical spine or neck, the thoracic spine and the lumbar spine or lower back.

The cervical spine supports the weight of the head and begins at the base of the skull. The spinal cord that controls the function of the body's various organs and limbs originates from the brain and passes down through the cervical spine. The cervical spine has 7 vertebrae. Between each of these vertebrae are soft pads or discs that act as shock-absorbers and allow for bending and movement of the head.

Cervical Pain

Millions of people suffer from pain in their necks or arms. A common cause of cervical pain is a rupture or herniation of one or more of the cervical discs. This happens when the annulus, that is the outer portion of the disc tears and the soft nucleus squeezes out. This results in pressure on the nerve root or the spinal cord and causes pain in the neck, shoulders, arms and sometimes the hands. The herniations can occur as a result of aging, wear and tear or sudden stress like from an accident.


The surgery is done under general anesthesia and would take between 2 to 4 hours depending on the complexity.

An anterior cervical discectomy is the most common surgical procedure to treat damaged cervical discs to relieve pressure on the nerve roots or on the spinal cord by removing the ruptured disc. The approach to the cervical spine is through a small incision in the front of the neck usually within a skin fold line under the chin. After retracting neck muscles suitably, the neurosurgeon uses an operating microscope and removes the affected intervertebral disk. During the surgery, the soft tissues of the neck are separated and the disc is removed and the space between may be left free or is filled with a bone graft. A bone graft is a plug of bone that allows the fusion of bone to happen. It is obtained from a bone bank or harvested from the patient itself. This eventually will fuse the vertebrae together in a few months. Suitable instrumentation (plates or screws) may be used to add stability to the spine.


Pain after surgery is common and can be controlled with pain medications. Sensations will normalise over a period of time. Basic movement is adviced and helps to a speedy recovery.

The surgeon will advice on the medication and basic activities that are adviced. More complex exercises like swimming or bicycling may be adviced after a couple of weeks. One can resume work after 3 to 4 weeks. Discomfort will be there during prolonged sitting postures.


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