Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Neck FAQ

Question:

I am going to have my neck fused after removing any disc material that’s damaged or falling apart. The news reports patients having the wrong arm or leg removed. If this is possible, how can the doctor know for sure where the right bones and discs are inside the neck?

Answer:

Cases of wrong body parts being removed do happen, although these are extremely rare. Medical staff has strict steps to follow to prevent this from happening. These events are always tragic and the news media reports them broadly. In the case of spine surgery, doctors use imaging to show the correct part before going ahead with the operation. Once the spine is cut open, special X-rays or imaging machines are used in the operating room. The doctor can see right away if the location is correct. There is also an operating microscope used during the operation to give the doctor a clear view inside the area. James S. Harrop, MD, et al. Cervicothoracic Radiculopathy Treated Using Posterior Cervical Foraminotomy/Discectomy. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. March 2003. Vol. 98. No. 3. Pp. 131-136.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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