Open-neck disc surgery is a traditional treatment option for patients suffering chronic pain associated with cervical spine problems, such as bone spurs or a herniated disc, and it involves making a cut in the neck's front area and accessing the cervical spine by navigating through the trachea, esophagus, blood vessels and other neck structures, explains Laser Spine Institute. Doctors remove a portion of the damaged disc, or all of it if the patient has a herniated disc.
If patients have anterior osteophytes, doctors remove these bone spurs and resurface the damaged vertebral bodies, reports Laser Spine Institute. Doctors merge the vertebrae with an artificial disc or a bone graft if removal of a large part of the damaged disc is essential. Most traditional open spinal fusion procedures involve screwing a metal plate to the vertebrae.
Open-neck disc surgery is an invasive surgery that usually requires days of hospital stay and a long, painful recovery period, notes Laser Spine Institute. Most patients cannot drive or perform certain neck movements within the first one to two weeks, and they cannot engage in full activities for three months or more.
As alternatives to open-neck disc surgery, many surgeons recommend minimally invasive procedures that allow them to operate on the spine by creating only a tiny incision, states Laser Spine Institute. These minimally invasive procedures lead to shorter recovery periods compared to open-neck disc surgery.