If a patient has disc herniation or rupture or if a disc is deteriorating, a physician may recommend that an anterior cervical discectomy with fusion be performed. By entering the front of the neck (the cervical area), a surgeon can access the damaged disc and remove it, and then implant replacements of bone or metal where the disc was removed to provide a fusion of the two neighboring vertebra.
Anterior cervical discectomy is typically undertaken if the patient has profound and chronic weakness in their hands or arms, accompanied by extreme pain caused by a degeneration or herniation of a disc of the spine.
The procedure begins with an incision in the front of the neck to give the surgeon proper access to the cervical portion of the spine. Once the damaged disc is removed and the pressure on the local nerves is relieved, a bone graft is inserted to fill the space where the damaged disc once rested. In certain circumstances a metal plate may also be inserted to stabilize the area and allow for the graft to better bind to the vertebra during the healing process.
Recovery time is usually fairly quick for surgeries of this type, with many patients up and mobile the day of the procedure and resuming normal daily activities within one to two months.