Anterior Cervical Discectomy (Microscopic)

Anterior cervical discectomy is a minimally invasive spine procedure performed from the front region of the neck to remove any damaged discs or bone spurs causing direct nerve root and spinal cord compression. The intervertebral discs facilitate easy movement of the neck and spine, however any damage to these discs due to age, injuries or degenerative conditions can lead to severe pain in the neck, muscle stiffness, numbness, weakness and tingling sensation which may radiate to other parts of the body.

The goal of the surgery is to eliminate chronic neck pain due to disc changes. The surgery is assisted by a surgical microscope for clear visualization of the cervical spine and structures to be removed. Generally, anterior cervical discectomy is followed by a fusion surgery involving replacement of the disc with bone graft to fuse the bones. This is done to improve cervical spine stability and strength. Surgeons prefer the anterior approach for cervical discectomy as it helps to gain easier access to the spinal column without damaging the neck muscles or the spinal column.

Indications of Anterior Cervical Discectomy

Anterior cervical discectomy may be indicated in one or more of the following conditions:

  • Degenerative cervical disc diseases
  • Cervical radiculopathy
  • Cervical spinal injuries
  • Disc herniation in the cervical spine
  • Cervical spine instability
  • Cervical spine arthritis
  • Cervical spinal stenosis
  • Chronic neck pain

Procedure of Anterior Cervical Discectomy

Anterior cervical discectomy is usually performed as an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia. A small incision of 1-2 inches is made through the central neck line in the front region of your neck. Then a tubular retractor is inserted to separate the muscles and expose the cervical vertebrae and discs. A surgical microscope is used for clear visualization of the surgical field. The surgeon then removes the disc and any surrounding bone spurs that may be compressing the nerves in the cervical region. Finally, the empty disc space is prepared for fusion and is secured and closed with sutures after replacement.


Post-surgery, you will be monitored in a post-operative unit for any complications, and may be discharged on the same day if none have been observed. You may feel mild pain at the site of surgery which subsides within few days. Your doctor provides you with instructions on physical therapy and medications. Complete recovery may take about four to six weeks.


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