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Planning for Cervical Disk Surgery

You can help make your surgery a success by preparing for it mentally and physically. This preparation includes planning ahead for your surgery, having realistic expectations about what surgery can do for you, and following your doctor's instructions.

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Plan Ahead

Surgery can be stressful. But if you plan ahead, you can make your recovery easier. Talk to your surgeon about how much time you’ll need to be away from work. Make sure family or friends can help you with errands and household chores for a few weeks after surgery.

Have Realistic Expectations

Cervical disk surgery can provide relief from neck and arm symptoms. But it may not eliminate your symptoms completely. Before you have surgery, talk to your surgeon about what this procedure can and can’t do for your problem.

If You Need a Bone Graft

Depending on the type of surgery you have, you may need a bone graft. A graft is a piece of bone that can be obtained from a bone in your own body (autograft) or from a bone bank. If you need a bone graft, your surgeon will discuss these options with you.

Fitting a Brace

A neck brace can help protect your cervical spine while it’s healing. A neck brace isn’t always needed. But if it is, your surgeon may recommend a rigid brace or a soft cervical collar. The brace may be fitted before surgery or right after surgery.

Before Surgery:

  • Tell your surgeon all medications you take. This includes herbs, supplements, and over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. You may be told to stop certain medications before surgery.

  • Smoking may slow bone healing. If you smoke, your surgeon may talk to you about stopping before surgery.

  • Do not eat or drink anything for 8 hours before surgery. This includes water, gum, and mints.

Risks and Complications of Cervical Disk Surgery

Your surgeon will discuss the risks and possible complications of surgery with you, which include:

  • Swallowing problems

  • Persistent hoarseness

  • Side effects from anesthesia

  • Failure of the graft to fuse

  • Damage to nearby tissues

  • Bone graft shifting or displacement

  • Bleeding and possible need for transfusion

  • Infection

  • Spinal cord or nerve damage

 

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