Cervical Herniated Disc Surgery

Back Surgery Information

Looking At Cervical Herniated Disc Surgery

A herniated disc is commonly referred to as a slipped disc. Slipped disc is actually a misnomer as the disc does not actually slip. What happens is that the nucleus or center of the disc, which is soft and jelly-like, shifts from its position or leaks out of the outer layer of the disc, called the annulus. The leakage or shifting of the nucleus can be caused by an injury to the spine or over-all wear and tear causing the annulus to crack or break. The annulus also becomes susceptible to breakage or cracking due to degeneration caused by aging. Disc herniation can happen anywhere along the spine but more commonly in the lower back and in the neck. A herniated disc in the neck is what is called a cervical herniated disk.

A Cervical herniated disc can cause numbness in the arm, tingling in the arm or fingers, neck pain and shoulder pain. The cervical discs are found in the 7 vertebrae between the head and the chest. The pain can be quite severe because the discs in the neck area are quite small. The severity and type of pain will however depend on the location of the slipped disc.

There are several treatment options for a cervical herniated disc. These will include exercise, physical therapy, pain management medication or possibly a cervical herniated disc surgery. Cervical herniated disc surgery is usually the last treatment option when non-surgical methods are not effective. Surgery may considered after a period of at least a month of non-surgical treatment without any positive results.

The doctor will normally consider the least invasive cervical herniated disc surgery possible. Surgery can be performed from the front of the neck, referred to as an anterior cervical surgery, or from the back of the neck referred to as a posterior cervical surgery. The anterior surgery is more common. There are several types of herniated disc surgeries.

Anterior cervical discectomy and spine fusion (ACDSF) – This is the most common cervical herniated disc surgery. The procedure involves an incision being made in the front of the neck to expose the spine. The herniated disc is removed and a grafted bone is put in its place. In some cases both the vertebrae and the disc are removed and replaced with a bone graft and a metal plate. This procedure is called a cervical corpectomy and fusion. The anterior cervical discectomy is also done without the spine fusion. In this procedure, the herniated disc is removed but no bone graft is put in its place. This cervical herniated disc surgery is not very popular because even if the spine does eventually fuse, it takes a longer time and can cause a deformity in the cervical spine.

Posterior cervical discectomy – In this cervical herniated disc surgery, the surgeon makes an incision in the back of the neck and dissects the muscles in the area to expose the vertebrae. The herniated disc is then removed. This surgery is not done as often as cervical herniated disc surgery as it is more invasive and complicated.

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