If you have severe neck, upper back, or arm pain due to a herniated disc, and physical therapy or medications aren’t doing anything to relieve the pain, your doctor may recommend getting an anterior cervical discectomy (ACD). An ACD serves to remove the herniated disc (also referred to as a slipped or ruptured disc) to decompress the spinal cord and stabilize the neck area to alleviate any chronic, painful symptoms.
What happens during an Anterior Cervical Discectomy
An anterior cervical discectomy can be understood by breaking down each word. Anterior means the front; cervical is the neck and discectomy literally means cutting out the disc. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia. An incision is made in the throat area to reach the front of the spine. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, one disc or more may be removed. Once the disc is removed bone graft is inserted to fill the remaining space and fuse the bones together. The bone graft may be a piece of bone from a different place in the neck or from a donor. Once the surgeon is done, stitches are used to close the incision on the neck.
Once the surgery is done, you’ll be moved into our recovery area. Your vital signs will be closely monitored. You may be given a cervical brace to wear to support and stabilize the neck while healing, as well as prescriptions for pain.
Recovery time generally takes about four weeks. The doctor may recommend neck stretches or physical therapy once your neck has healed.
When you get home, the body will begin its own natural healing process. The body will produce its own bone cells that will grow around the graft. After about three to six months the bone graft will join the two vertebrae and eventually form one solid bone.
ACD has a high success rate. It is usually effective in regaining control and movement of the neck, back, and arms.
If you are experiencing chronic neck or back pain, contact your doctor. If you need a procedure to treat symptoms, please call the Surgery Center of Fort Collins for more information. We do perform discectomies for patients, and they are often more affordable and less stressful to have done at our ambulatory surgery center as opposed to in a hospital setting. Call 970-821-8634 for more information or to schedule an appointment.