How is a neck hernia treated?
Not every hernia requires surgery
The neurologist will discuss with you several treatment options, whose nature will depend on the severity of your symptoms and on the neurologist’s findings after the neurological examination. Not every hernia requires surgery. Seventy to eighty percent of all hernias heal of their own accord if you just wait and rest.
Therefore, patients must not rush into surgery. On the other hand, the recovery process may take longer if a patient waits too long before undergoing surgery. Generally speaking, surgeons will wait at least six weeks before operating on a patient (unless there is an indication for emergency surgery), but will want to operate within 6 months of the onset of the pain (if the pain lasts that long).
Indications for surgery
There are two types of indications for surgery:
- Absolute: When a nerve is so severely dysfunctional that it causes paralysis or similar such symptoms. If any pressure is being exerted on the spinal cord, surgery is advisable, too.
- Relative: When an arm is so painful that it is becoming dysfunctional. Since the patient’s complaints are decisive here, it is up to the patient to decide whether or not surgery is required.
Operating on a patient from the front
At Bergman Clinics' Back and Neck Centre, neck hernias are generally operated on from the front, as is customary. A small incision is made at the right-hand side of the neck, through which the front of the cervical spine can easily be accessed. The operation involves pushing the trachea and oesophagus a little to the side. It does not matter which is the affected arm, since both sides of the intervertebral disc can be accessed from this point. Once the affected intervertebral disc has been removed and the outgoing nerves have been put to the side, the disc space, which is now empty, can be filled.
This can be done in various ways, using various materials. At Bergman Clinics' Back and Neck Centre, the empty space is filled with a plastic fusion cage that is filled with some kind of cement. This will keep the adjacent vertebrae properly aligned and the nerve canals on each side nice and open. In about a year’s time, the two vertebrae and the cage will grow into a single bone, what with the two vertebrae having fused through the cage. Once the cage has been installed, there will be no need for an additional plate on top of it. The cage will be locked into position and will not move from there.
So what happens when I undergo surgery?
Click the button below for some general information on operations performed by Dr Schröder.