Anterior Cervical Discectomy

What to Expect After an Anterior Cervical Discectomy

After the patient comes round from the general anaesthetic they may be given a soft cervical collar to wear to support the neck muscles for a couple of days whilst they begin to heal. Longer term use of a collar is inadvisable as it can lead to muscle atrophy and weakness with further problems for the neck. After a few hours rest the patient is usually able to walk a little way and gradually increase the duration of the activity, resting whenever discomfort occurs. It is important to try to get moving as soon as possible to avoid the risk of thrombophlebitis. The patient usually remains in the hospital for monitoring and may be given IV fluids. This is because patients may find it initially a little difficult to swallow and may choose to consume liquid foods for a few days until any swelling goes down.

Side Affects of Surgery

Some patients find that they experience a little hoarseness in the throat from an anterior cervical discectomy as the tissues in the larynx may be slightly inflamed due to their proximity to the cervical spine and the area operated on. This should be temporary, but on rare occasions may persist.

The patient will be given instructions by their surgeon or physician in order to promote a prompt and healthy recovery. The surgical dressing is likely to stay in place for a number of days, or longer as appropriate, and the patient will be able to shower the day after their surgery whilst keeping the dressing in place to protect the incision.

Monitoring the Patient

Making sure that the medical team is notified of any changes in the patient’s condition is very important to ensure that any pathological changes are quickly recognized and dealt with optimally. Sudden onset of acute neck pain also in the arms, shoulders, or hands requires immediate medical attention, as does any development of fever, swelling of the neck, or any leaking of fluid from the surgical incision.


Patients usually stay in the hospital for a few days after surgery, depending on their rate of recovery and the care available for them at home. To aid their recovery gentle walking is advised, and then climbing of stairs as they feel able. Taking things slowly and stopping any activity that causes pain is the best way to allow the body to heal after an anterior cervical discectomy.


Next read about: Anterior Cervical Discectomy Risks

Last Updated: 10/10/2010