Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Mobi-C

An anterior cervical discectomy is a surgery designed to remove a herniated disc in the neck and relieve pressure on nerves. After disc removal, an artificial disc made of metal and polyethylene (similar to plastic) is used to allow motion while stabilizing the spine.

A cervical discectomy is used when one, or possibly two, discs are degenerated or herniated and are identified as the likely cause of neck or arm pain. Patients must have minimal arthritis of the facet joints, no active infection, and no osteoporosis. The involved disc(s) must be between C3-4 and C6-7. The criteria for successful cervical discectomy are more stringent than for anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.

Cervical disc replacement takes about 2 hours to perform. An incision is made across the front part of your neck, usually on the left side. The incision goes past your esophagus and trachea, and your spine is directly under this area. The entire disc is removed and then the disc replacement is put in its place. After surgery, you are sometimes hoarse and there may be some difficulty involved in swallowing. You can get up and around the day of surgery and will be in a soft collar.

Surgeons recommend against driving for 1 – 2 weeks and no lifting greater than 15 pounds for one month. Further restrictions can be found in your aftercare instructions.

There are several risks to anterior cervical discectomies of which you should be aware. One of these is that the artificial disc could become loose or wear out. This has proven to be uncommon and there are fewer problems with artificial discs, in general, than with anterior cervical fusions. Infection is a complication that can occur about 1% of the time. This may require further surgery, and/or antibiotics.

Another risk is that of damaging the vocal cords so that you may be permanently hoarse. That is very uncommon. Other potential complications are damage to the esophagus and arteries in the neck area. These are potentially very serious complications, which may lead to severe neurological complications, including paralysis; however, the incidence is extremely low. The risk of a spinal fluid leak is 1% but can lead to prolonged hospitalization while patients recover.

There is approximately a 90% chance you will benefit from the operation. There is a chance that the symptoms may be worse; however, those chances are slight.

Our overall advice for this type of surgery is the same for any other spine surgery, which is to live with the pain you are experiencing if you can. The reason for undergoing the operation is that the pain or weakness is making life so uncomfortable or difficult that you are willing to accept the chance of a result that is less that 100% successful.

Learn more about Orthopedics at The Oregon Clinic