Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Surgery for Cervical Myelopathy: Before Your Surgery
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Surgery for Cervical Myelopathy: Before Your Surgery

The spine

What is surgery for cervical myelopathy?

Surgery for cervical myelopathy (say "my-uhl-OP-uh-thee") removes any tissues that are pressing on the spinal cord. Tissues can include bone, ruptured discs, and ligaments.

Your doctor makes a cut (incision) in the skin over the spine. Special tools are used to do the surgery.

Surgery is done to stop the pressure on the spinal cord. This may help with pain and numbness and may improve movement. It will also help prevent more damage. Some people notice that their symptoms improve very soon after surgery. But your neck and upper back may still feel stiff and sore for several weeks.

Most people stay overnight in the hospital. You will probably be able to return to work or your normal routine in 4 to 6 weeks. In some cases, the doctor may recommend a rehabilitation program after surgery. This may include physiotherapy and home exercises.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How do you prepare for surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You will be asleep during the surgery.
  • The surgery will take about 1 to 2 hours. If you have a spinal fusion at the same time, the surgery will take a little longer.
  • When you wake up, you will be lying flat on your back. You may have a plastic or foam collar around your neck.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter R870 in the search box to learn more about "Surgery for Cervical Myelopathy: Before Your Surgery".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.