Wear and tear or injury in your neck can result in a narrowing of your spinal cord. Pressure on the nerves in this area can cause pain. An alternative to traditional spinal decompression uses surgical implants to replace damaged or diseased cervical discs.
Your cervical spine is the seven bones (vertebrae) stacked on top of each other in your neck. Between these bones are discs that cushion your neck and allow it to move freely.
What happens during cervical disc replacement?
Cervical disc replacement is usually performed under general anaesthetic. The procedure can take several hours. Your surgeon will make an incision (cut) in the side or front of your neck. They will carefully access the disc to be replaced and remove it. A surgical implant will be inserted to replace the diseased disc. Your incision will be closed with stitches and a small dressing will cover your wound. You may need to wear a neck collar.
After cervical disc replacement
Immediately after your surgery you will be taken to the recovery area. Staff will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. If you are in any pain be sure and tell the recovery room staff. When you are stable, a nurse will take you to your room.
Once you are back in your room, our nursing team will continue to check on you to make sure you are recovering well. After you’ve recovered from any effects of the anaesthetic, you can have something to eat and drink. Be sure and tell us if you are in any pain.
Within a few hours we will help you get out of bed and begin moving around on your own. You may need to spend 1-2 nights in hospital.
Before you leave hospital a physiotherapist will show you how to go about your daily routine without putting any stress on your neck. There may be restrictions on bending or lifting.
Going home after cervical disc replacement
You will not be able to drive until released to do so by your consultant. Please arrange for someone to drive you home after discharge.
Your consultant will advise you on what activities you can do. Follow any restrictions given to you by the physiotherapist. Continue to take any pain medication as prescribed.
Wear your neck collar as instructed. Keep your surgical wound clean and dry.
You may be referred to physiotherapy to help you slowly increase your activity level. Discuss any return to work with your consultant.
Most people make a good recovery from cervical disc replacement. As with any procedure there can be complications:
- Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis – DVT)
- Reaction to anaesthetic
Specific complications of cervical disc replacement may include:
- Nerve damage
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hoarse voice
- Continued symptoms
- Spinal injury (rare).
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