Posterior cervical decompression

Surgery for neck pain without fusion

Also known as a microdiscectomy

What is posterior cervical decompression?

Part of the bone is removed from the back of the spinal column in your neck to relieve pressure caused by the spinal stenosis. Cervical spinal stenosis is similar to the stenosis in the lower back and can also cause weakness/numbness or pain in your arms and legs.

Cervical procedures can be performed through the front of the neck (anterior). or from the back of the neck (posterior). Your surgeon will choose which approach is best suited to your condition.

This procedure can be performed without needing fusion. Fusion is a technique that allows for decompression of multiple segments of the cervical spine in patients with multi-level stenosis.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    The procedure is usually conducted under general anaesthetic, meaning you'll be asleep for the duration. It usually takes between one and two hours. Because surgery is performed with you lying on your front, it is necessary to apply temporary pins to the skull, attached to a special clamp, which allows your head to be securely suspended over the operating table. These pins are removed immediately after the procedure (before you wake up).

    Your consultant will make a cut in the middle of the back of your neck. The consultant will split the muscles to gain access to your spine. Enough bone and ligament tissue are removed to open up the narrowed part of the canal, giving your spinal cord and blood vessels more space. They will then carefully sew up the incision.

  • How to prepare icon plus

    Your consultant will tell you how best to prepare for your surgery.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    You will spend around one to three nights in hospital. After surgery you may need to lie flat in bed for a few hours while the anesthetic wears off. The aim will be to get you up and walking as soon as possible after the surgery.The following day you will be mobilised in the morning with the assistance of a physiotherapist or nurse. Each day you will be encouraged to undertake more activities by yourself.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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