Type of Surgery


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Last updated: 11/24/2009


All surgery carries some risk due to heart and lung problems or the anesthesia itself, but this risk is generally very small. (The risk of death from general anesthesia for all types of surgery, for example, is only approximately one in 1,600 surgeries.)


most common risk of the surgery is infection, which occurs in 1–2% of cases. Rarely, the surgery damages nerves in the lower back or major blood vessels in front of the disk. Occasionally, there may be some residual paralysis of a leg or bladder muscle after surgery, but this is the result of the disk problem that necessitated the surgery, not the operation itself.



This animation shows the steps involved in an anterior cervical disc replacement. The cervical spine is the spinal area that supports the head while the disks of the spine are the relatively soft areas between individual vertebra (spinal bones). As the animation shows, this cervical disc replacement involves the removal of the natural, diseased cervical disk and the replacement with an artifical joint.

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In the anterior cervical disk removal, an incision is made into the patient's neck (B). The cervical disk, which may be herniated, is visualized (C). It is removed completely (D and E). (Illustration by GGS Inc.) In the anterior cervical disk removal, an incision is made into the patient's neck (B). The cervical disk, which may be herniated, is visualized (C). It is removed completely (D and E). (Illustration by GGS Inc.)


Other Information


One of the most common types of back surgery is disk removal (diskectomy), the removal of an intervertebral disk, the flexible plate that connects any two adjacent vertebrae in the spine. Intervertebral disks act as shock absorbers, protecting the brain and spinal cord from the impact produced by the body's movements.


The surgery is done under general anaesthesia, which puts the patient to sleep and affects the whole body. Operating on the patient's back, the neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon makes an opening into the vertebral canal, and then moves the dura and the bundle of nerves called the "cauda equina" (horse's tail) aside, which exposes the disk. If a portion of the disk has moved from between the vertebrae out into the nerve canal, it is simply removed. If the disk itself has become fragmented and partially displaced, or not fragmented but bulging extensively, the surgeon will remove the bulging or displaced part of the disk and the part that lies in the space between the vertebrae.

— Carol A. Turkington

From http://www.answers.com/topic/disk-removal

Other Information

New procedures like minimally invasive procedures are often subject to scrutiny, but I think that one of the biggest problems facing these innovative procedures is for people to understand exactly what we do.

-Dr. Michael Perry, Laser Spine institute

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