Anterior Cervical Discectomy – Inter Body Cage

What is a anterior cervical discectomy – inter body cage?

An Anterior Cervical Discectomy – inter body cage is performed to treat damaged cervical discs. This surgery approaches the spine from the front. A skin crease cut is made across the side of the neck.

An x-ray is taken during surgery to confirm the correct level of the spine before removing the disc. Using a microscope the damaged disc is removed. Any bony spurs which may be compressing the nerve roots and spinal cord are also removed.

Once the disc is removed, the space between the neck bones is empty. To prevent the bones from collapsing and rubbing together, the open disc space is filled with an interbody cage. An interbody cage is a prosthetic device used to maintain the normal height of the disc space.

The interbody cage is filled with a bone graft substitute and some of your own bone. This fuses the two neck bones together which prevents the bones rubbing together and collapsing.

The cut will be closed with sutures or staples.

My Anaesthetic

This procedure will require a General Anaesthetic.

See About your Anaesthetic information sheet for information about the anaesthetic and the risks involved. If you have any concerns, talk these over with your doctor.

If you have not been given an information sheet, please ask for one.

What are the risks of this specific procedure?

There are some risks/complications with this procedure.

Common risks include:

  • Infection. This may need antibiotics and further treatment.
  • Minor pain, bruising and/or infection from IV cannula site. This may require treatment with antibiotics.

Uncommon risks include:

  • Bleeding. A return to the operating room for further surgery may be required if bleeding occurs. Bleeding is more common if you have been taking blood thinning drugs such as Warfarin, Asprin, Clopidogrel (Plavix or Iscover) or Dipyridamole (Persantin or Asasantin).
  • A heart attack because of the strain on the heart.
  • Stroke or stroke like complications can occur which can cause weakness in the face, arms and legs. This could be temporary or permanent.
  • Injury to the voice box, the nerves to the voice box which causes vocal cord paralysis and a hoarse voice. This is usually temporary but may require further surgery.
  • Injury to the food pipe. This may require further surgery.
  • Injury to the carotid artery, which can cause a stroke. This may be permanent.
  • Injury to the spinal cord resulting in quadriplegia. This may be temporary or permanent and may require further surgery.
  • Injury to a nerve root causing a weak and numb upper limb. This may be temporary or permanent.
  • Ongoing neck or upper limb pain. This may be temporary or permanent.
  • Failure of fusion on the bone. This may result in pain and may require further surgery.
  • Movement of the graft or inter body cage resulting in swallowing difficulties. This may require further surgery.
  • Small areas of the lung may collapse, increasing the risk of chest infection. This may need antibiotics and physiotherapy.
  • Increase risk in obese people of wound infection, chest infection, heart and lung complications, and thrombosis.
  • Clots in the leg (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) with pain and swelling. Rarely part of this clot may break off and go into the lungs.

Rare risks include:

  • Death is rare due to this procedure.