This surgery, like the anterior cervical fusion, is also performed the front of the throat. The main structures in the way of the spine are the windpipe and esophagus, as well as the vertebral and carotid arteries. Careful dissection and retraction help prevent injury.
Once the spine is visualized, an x-ray is done to verify that the correct level or levels are being approached. A radical diskectomy is performed. This includes essentially 100% removal of the disc(s), as well as any bone spurs or disc fragments that may be against the nerves. Once this is accomplished, the size of the space is measured and the correct size artificial disk replacement implant is carefully inserted. Multiple x-rays are done throughout the procedure to aid in the safe positioning of the implants. The anatomic structures are then allowed to return to their normal positions, a drain is placed, and the wound is closed.