What is an anterior cervical discectomy – inter body fusion?

An anterior cervical discectomy – inter body fusion is performed to treat damaged cervical discs. This surgery approaches the spine from the front. A skin crease cut is made across the side of the neck.

anterior cervical discectomy

An x-ray is taken during surgery to confirm the correct level of the spine before removing the disc. Using a microscope, the damaged disc is removed. Any bony spurs which may be compressing the nerve roots and spinal cord are also removed.

Once the disc is removed, the space between the neck bones is empty. To prevent the bones from collapsing and rubbing together, the open disc space is filled with either your own bone or an interbody cage. An interbody cage is a prosthetic device used to maintain the normal height of the disc space.

If an interbody cage is used, it is filled with a bone graft substitute and some of your own bone. This fuses the two neck bones together which prevents the bones rubbing together and collapsing. Sometimes, a small metal plate with screws is used to help strengthen the fusion. The cut will be closed with sutures or staples.

This procedure will require a general anaesthetic.

What are the risks of this specific procedure?

anterior cervical discectomy

There are risks and complications with this procedure. They include but are not limited to the following, Infection requiring antibiotics and further treatment. Minor pain, bruising and/or infection from IV canula site. Usually, a cage is used rather than your own bone. If your own bone is being used pain from the donor site can occur and usually settles with time.  Bleeding is more common if you have been taking blood thinning drugs.

There are also complications which rarely occur such as stroke or stroke like complications which may occur causing neurological deficits such as weakness in the face, arms, and legs. This could be temporary surgery. Injury to the nerves of the voice box which causes vocal cord paralysis and a hoarse voice. This is usually temporary but may require further surgery. This is rarely permanent. Injury to the food pipe. This may require further surgery.