Cervical Microdiscectomy

Cervical = having to do with the spine in the neck
Microdiscectomy = a procedure in which a surgeon uses a microscope and microsurgical tools (micro-) to remove part of a spinal disc (-discectomy)

A cervical microdiscectomy is a procedure in which a surgeon uses a microscope and microsurgical tools to remove a portion of a damaged disc in the cervical spine (neck).

When is Cervical Microdiscectomy performed?

A cervical microdiscectomy is performed for certain patients with a herniated disc in the cervical spine.

A herniated disc can compress (put pressure on) the nerves that exit the spinal cord. (This condition is sometimes known as a pinched nerve.) Compression of a nerve in the cervical spine can cause pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in the shoulders, arms, or hands.

Before surgery is considered, the doctor may recommend nonoperative measures such as pain medications and physical therapy. However, if these nonoperative measures do not provide the relief needed, surgery may be considered.

How should I prepare for Cervical Microdiscectomy?

A cervical microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive surgery. Minimally invasive surgery is performed with advanced techniques that minimize injury to the body, leave less scarring, and allow for a faster recovery.

This procedure is performed under general anesthesia. In order to access the spine, the surgeon will use tubular dilators (tubes of expanding diameter) to create a channel through the muscles of the neck. The surgeon may then remove a small portion of the lamina and facet joint (a procedure called a laminoforaminotomy) to reveal the herniated disc and the inflamed nerve. Using microsurgical tools, the surgeon will remove the portion of the disc that compresses the nerve.

The removed portion of the lamina does not need to be replaced. The incision is simply closed with one to two sutures and is covered with a band-aid sized dressing.

As with any operative procedure, there are risks associated with a cervical microdiscectomy. However, these risks are usually small. Speak with your surgeon about any questions or concerns you may have regarding this procedure.

How is Cervical Microdiscectomy performed?

Make sure to tell your doctor about any medications that you’re taking, including over-the-counter medication and supplements, especially medications that can thin your blood such as aspirin. Your doctor may recommend you stop taking these medications before your procedure. To make it easier, write all of your medications down before the day of surgery.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you have an allergy to any medications, food, or latex (some surgical gloves are made of latex).

On the day of surgery, remove any nail polish or acrylic nails, do not wear makeup, and remove all jewelry/wigs/hairpiece. Also, you will need to remove contact lenses, eyeglasses, and dentures.

If staying overnight, bring items that may be needed, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, and dentures.

What can I expect after Cervical Microdiscectomy?

Patients are usually discharged on the day of surgery or the next morning.

Patients are usually encouraged to walk as soon as possible, often on the day of surgery. In general, patients are encouraged to increase their activities as they are able to tolerate, but should refrain from strenuous exercise until cleared by their surgeon.

The surgeon will schedule a follow-up visit, typically 4-6 weeks after surgery.

Physical therapy is rarely required. If physical therapy is needed, it will typically be started at the time of the follow-up visit. Physical therapy will focus on strengthening the neck and increasing range of motion.