Depending on where the problem lies in the cervical spine, the surgeon can perform cervical spine surgery with an access from the front, i.e. from the side of the neck, or from the back, i.e. from the side of the neck. In most cases it is sufficient to choose a very small access that leaves only a minimal scar.
If the access is chosen from the front, the patient lies on his or her back during the operation and the access is made through the front neck muscles, past the trachea and esophagus. If access is from behind, the incision is at the level of the spinous processes of the affected area of the cervical spine, and the surgeon operates past the neck muscles. In both cases, the surgeon takes great care not to damage the nerve fibers and the spinal cord.
Duration of the surgery
A cervical spine surgery can only be performed as an inpatient and under general anesthesia. Therefore, the patient is usually admitted to the hospital the day before or is ordered to fast the day before the surgery. The duration of the surgery depends on the access used, whether the same area has been operated on before and on personal risks and factors.
In general, a cervical spine surgery takes between one hour and 90 minutes. Afterwards, the patient is monitored in a recovery room for about one to two hours and then transferred to a normal ward. After the surgery, the patient usually stays in the hospital for about 5-6 days before being discharged home.
Risks of the operation
Since cervical surgery is routine for experienced doctors, the risks are low and complications are rare. If the operation is performed with the access from behind, it is possible that the nerves or spinal cord exiting from there will be damaged. In this case, the affected muscles of the arm may be affected by sensation, loss of sensation and loss of function.
If the access is performed from the front, the large blood vessels that run there may be damaged, which would lead to blood loss. In addition, the oesophagus or windpipe can be injured, which could lead to breathing or swallowing difficulties.In addition to these specific risks, the risks that can generally occur during operations also apply. These include disturbances in wound healing, bleeding, intolerance of anesthesia or infections of the wound area.