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Anterior Cervical Discectomy


Anterior cervical discectomy is surgery to remove one or more cervical discs from your neck. A cervical disc is material that cushions and separates the vertebrae of your neck. The discs help your spine support your head and protect your spine from being damaged when you move.



  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell your healthcare provider if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider or orthopedic surgeon as directed:

Tell your healthcare provider or orthopedic surgeon if you are having any pain or other symptoms. He may do a physical exam and check your muscle strength and reflexes. You may need tests such as a cervical spine x-ray, CT scan, or MRI to help healthcare providers check the position of each vertebra. The tests will also show if your graft, plates, or screws have moved out of place. Ask how often you should clean your surgical wound and change your bandage. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


Your healthcare provider or orthopedic surgeon may tell you to take many short walks after your surgery. Walking helps blood move through your body and may help prevent blood clots from forming. If you feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away.

Neck brace:

You may need to wear a neck brace for a few weeks after your surgery. The brace will support your neck and hold it in the right position while you are healing. Do not stop wearing your neck brace until your healthcare provider says it is okay.

Physical therapy:

You may need physical therapy after your surgery. A physical therapist will help you with exercises to decrease pain and improve movement. Physical therapy can also help improve strength in the muscles that support your neck and decrease your risk for loss of function.

Contact your healthcare provider or orthopedic surgeon if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have a cough that does not go away.
  • The skin around your surgical site is red, warm, or swollen.
  • You have yellow or bad-smelling fluid coming from your wound.
  • You have new or worsening trouble when you swallow.
  • You have new or worsening pain in your neck or arm.
  • You have worsening hoarseness, or you have trouble speaking.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your bandage begins to soak with blood.
  • Your surgical wound breaks open.
  • You have painful swelling in your neck and trouble swallowing.
  • You have new or worsening trouble moving your neck, arms, or legs.
  • You start leaking urine or bowel movement.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
  • You have chest pain. You may have more pain when you take a deep breath or cough. You may cough up blood.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.