Question:I'm supposed to sing in a wedding at the end of the summer. But I have terrible neck pain from a herniated disc that needs to be removed. I'm supposed to have surgery to take the disc out. I will also have a cervical fusion at the same time. This all happens two months before the wedding. Will I be recovered enough to sing as planned?
Answer:Post-operative recovery after an operation like this is variable. Some patients have temporary trouble with hoarseness and difficulty swallowing. It can last a short time, but it can take months to recover. There are reported cases of permanent paralysis.
Complications of this type are more common when the surgery is done from the front of the neck (anterior). The laryngeal nerve and soft tissues of the neck are moved to the side to get to the vertebra and disc. Damage can occur to the nerve and swelling in the area is common.
Surgery can be done from the back (posterior) part of the neck. The risk of spinal cord damage is much higher with this approach. This is why surgeons prefer the anterior approach.
Be sure and let your surgeon know of your concerns. But be prepared to have a backup singer ready for your event. Most everyone experiences some mild but temporary symptoms. Itâs not possible to predict who will have such problems long-term.Hanna Tervonen, MD, et al. Dysphonia and Dysphagia After Anterior Cervical Decompression. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. August 2007. Vol. 7. No. 2. Pp. 124-130.
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