Cervical Decompression: aka Posterior Cervical Decompression, Microdiscectomy, Anterior Cervical Decompression, Spine Fusion Procedure, Cervical Discectomy
What is it?
Cervical discectomy or cervical decompression surgery is a mini spinal decompression surgery that allows a surgeon to remove a small portion of the spinal bone that covers the disc material near the nerve root to help improve pain. This type of surgery is idea for the candidate that does not need to have a full spinal fusion surgery but does need to alleviate some of the pain associated with instable vertebrae in the cervical spine.
During the procedure:
- The surgeon makes an incision near the middle of the back of the cervical spine or neck.
- The surgeon then lifts the para-spinal muscles, or the muscles supporting the neck off of the spine slightly.
- An x-ray is done to ensure the surgeon is operating at the right level of the spine.
- Some of the facet joint and nerve root are then noted and a microscope is brought in to better visualize the disc and nerve root.
- The disc, located just beneath the nerve root, is then freed from herniation.
Once the surgeon repairs the herniated disc the individual is closed back up to heal. Many patients would prefer this approach to a full spinal fusion, because this type of surgery prevents immobilization of part of the spine. During a spinal fusion a part of the spine must become immobilized because part of the vertebrae is fused to another part.
Alternatives to Surgery
Alternatives to surgery include regular chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture and other natural manipulative therapies that aim to help provide mostly palliative treatment. There are not natural therapies or non-surgical approaches at this time that may necessarily completely eliminate a herniated disc or remove disc degeneration.
There are support braces for the lumbar spine and cervical spine patients can wear to help relieve pressure and stiffness, and possibly help reduce pain. A trained therapist can help fit patients with these to help make walking and other movements less painful. Other therapists may recommend using an exercise ball to sit on and strengthen the core while at home or at work to help provide greater stability to the spine and cervical spine.
Before the Operation
The surgeon will recommend patients refrain from smoking and taking certain prescription medications that may interfere with anesthesia or may promote bleeding and bruising. If you are not certain what medications you should or should not take be sure to consult with your doctor and anesthesiologist.
After the Operation- In the Hospital
During the recovery phase following the operation, the patient will be waking up from anesthesia and preparing to go home. Each medical facility and physician will have specific requirements that the patient will need to meet prior to their release. It will also be essential that someone be with the patient to drive them home following their release.
After the Operation- At Home
The most important thing to do during recovery at home is to follow all of the advice and instructions given by the surgeon.
Some possible complications that may arise from a cervical decompression surgery may include:
- Possible damage to the nerve root which may occur when the surgeon moves the nerve out of the way to reach the herniated disc.
- Possible damage to the spinal cord when the surgeon works to repair the herniated disc. This can occur in any surgery involving the spinal cord.
- Dural leak or leak of the fluid surrounding the spaces in the vertebrae.
- Infection of the fluid surrounding the spine or of the blood and sutures.
- Bleeding or clotting problems.
- Continuing pain despite efforts to relieve the pain following surgery. This is one of the primary complaints some patients also have following spinal fusion, although some describe the pain associated with cervical decompression and spinal fusion surgeries as more achy and dull pain than the sometimes sharp or tingly pain associated with slipped discs.
- Recurrent or continuing disc herniation, which can make standing up straight, walking or moving rather difficult.
While this list may sound rather extensive, for the most part complications are generally rare. If you do your homework and take time selecting a qualified physician you will probably find like most that the risk of complication are rare.
Many surgeons recommend performing a cervical spine decompression and approaching this procedure from an anterior position rather than a posterior position because this procedure is very reliable and produces favorable outcomes. This procedure generally releases pressure on the nerve and helps relieve many symptoms of spinal compression including nerve pain, tingling and numbness. Also some patients report improved symptoms including lack of disc problems following surgery.
Just remember to weight the pros and cons because as with any surgery there are always risks including the risk that your problem may or may not resolve following surgery. Some people will also require additional surgeries or need to have the surgery repeated with time.
Estimated Costs for Cervical Decompression
The costs of cervical decompression surgery vary from country to country. You may find the cost of surgery also depends on the severity of your condition. Make sure you check in with multiple physicians prior to deciding on how much to pay for your surgery. Many centers will offer financing to help support the cost of cervical decompression surgery. You may receive a discounted price for paying your bill in full at the time of surgery.
Many people find the cost of surgery is dramatically reduced by traveling abroad for surgery. There are many high-quality medical health centers that now offer state-of-the-art medical facilities providing services including cervical decompression, spinal fusion and a whole range of other health and wellness services. Not only will you receive the surgery you need in a relaxing setting you will also get to enjoy a mini-vacation while you recover! Why not make the best of both worlds. Get better from the inside out.
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