Anterior cervical discectomy is the most common surgical procedure to treat cervical disc prolapse and cervical myelopathy. The aim of the procedure is to relieve pressure on the nerve roots or on the spinal cord by removing the ruptured disc.

The surgery is performed by a transverse incision on neck. During the surgery, the soft tissues of the neck are separated and the disc is removed. The structures compressing the cord and nerve roots are removed. The space between the vertebrae is either left open or filled with bone graft to maintain normal height. A bone graft is a small piece of bone, usually taken from the pelvic area. This piece of bone fills the disc space and ideally will join or fuse the vertebrae together. This is called fusion. It usually takes a few months for the vertebrae to completely fuse. In some cases, some instrumentation such as plates or screws) may also be used to add stability to the spine.

Complications of this surgery include dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing) and hoarseness of voice. These are usually transient and recover with time. Neurological complications may occur rarely following cervical spine surgery.

Patient usually needs a collar for 4 to 6 weeks following surgery.