The cervical vertebrae are the first seven vertebrae of the spinal column. Separating any two vertebrae is a soft elastic material called a disc which acts as a shock-absorber and allows for movement of the head. However, age, wear and tear, or sometimes an accident can cause one of these discs to thin or rupture. This can result in the adjacent vertebrae getting closer together and pinching the nerve that exits between them.
An anterior cervical discectomy is the most common surgical procedure to treat damaged cervical discs. This procedure involves making a small incision in front of the neck. The tissues in front of the damaged disc are separated and the disc is removed. Openings slightly wider than the removed disk are drilled into the surrounding vertebrae. Bone that has been harvested from the pelvis is then placed within titanium cages and positioned in the vacant space. Specialized cells called osteocytes within this bone produce new bone and aid in the site’s healing. Bone grafts provide support and structure while the bone is healing and maintain the normal height of the disc space.