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Herniation of a cervical disc is a common spinal problem. Herniated cervical discs can compress nerves leading to the arms or the spinal cord. Symptoms can include neck pain, arm pain or weakness. Pressure on the spinal cord may result in more serious symptoms such as leg weakness or walking difficulty. In most cases of herniated cervical discs, we take a conservative approach. Time, antiinflammatory medication, and physical therapy are generally successful treatments.

Surgery for herniated cervical discs is considered in patients with continued symptoms who have failed appropriate conservative measures. Neurologic symptoms, such as weakness or gait difficulty, may require surgery on an earlier basis. The most common surgery for symptomatic herniated cervical discs is anterior cervical discectomy with fusion. This can be done for single or multiple level disc herniations as indicated.

Dr. Elowitz performs a microscopic, minimally invasive anterior cervical discectomy. Surgical time is typically less than two hours. Patients are walking later that day and discharged the next day. Minimally invasive anterior cervical discectomy is performed via a small incision through the front of the neck. Microsurgical technique is used to carefully remove the herniated disc and any bone spur relieving pressure from the nerve or spinal cord. If a fusion is performed, our preference is to use a bone bank graft in the majority of patients. In some patients a bone graft from the iliac crest region may be used. A titanium plate is then applied. Following surgery, patients wear a soft cervical collar for six weeks. Most patients are able to return to work in approximately 10 days.

Dr. Elowitz is participating in a Multicenter study of Artificial Cervical Disc Replacement eliminating the need for cervical fusion in appropriate patients.