Dr. Brett Taylor
St. Louis, MO
Success rates for cervical spine surgery are very good. However, there are certain risk factors you must discuss with your surgeon as they relate to your particular problem. Surgical infections occur in patients with certain medical problems such as diabetes and systemic rheumatological disorders. Patients who previously have had surgery are also theoretically at increased risk for complications. You should review in detail with your surgeon your particular risk factors.

A common risk factor we discuss with patients in my practice is the use of nicotine products. Nicotine products are known to affect bone fusion rates as well as wound healing. Nicotine users also may be at risk for certain complications related to anesthesia. These issues should be discussed with your surgeon, who can give you detailed information on your particular risks.

Dr. Brian Subach
Atlanta, GA
If the spine surgeon believes the operation is correct for your specific examination, complaints, and imaging results, the chance of success and a good outcome is excellent.
Dr. B. Theo Mellion
Carbondale, IL
The success rate for this surgery is quite high. The success rate for relieving symptoms is around 97%. So 97% of the patients are basically satisfied with the surgical outcome. The fusion rate varies depending on the number of levels but still the satisfactory outcome is above 95%.
Dr. David S. Baskin
Houston, TX
This once again depends on the anatomy of your problem. In most cervical spine surgery for disc or bone spur problems, the success rate is over 90%. More complicated situations, of course, have different statistics associated with them.
Dr. Moe R. Lim
Chapel Hill, NC
Your chance of success depends on your specific problem. In general, anterior cervical spine decompression and fusion has a greater than 90% success rate.
Dr. Timothy C. Ryken
Iowa City, IA
The chances that surgery will be successful are directly related to how well your surgeon can tie your symptoms to the radiographic and clinical evidence.
Dr. Robert S. Pashman
Los Angeles, CA
The success of the surgery is determined by the reconstruction of spinal balance and the reduction/elimination of the patient's symptoms. The outcome is dependant on the condition of the spine and surgeon performing the surgery.
Dr. Sean Salehi
Chicago, IL
With good patient selection over 90%.
Dr. Daniel Resnick
Madison, WI
The overall good outcome rate for cervical disc surgery is very high. The vast majority of patients with radicular symptoms has improved dramatically. Our treatment of neck pain is less successful. I would estimate that only 50-60% of patients without significant injury or deformity of the spine who undergo surgery have significant resolution of the neck pain. Obviously, if there is a significant deformity of the spine or if there has been a significant injury to the spine then our success in terms of improving the neck pain are higher.
Dr. Joseph Alexander
Winston-Salem, NC
This is too broad of a question to address in general terms. The chances for success from cervical surgery depend on what the underlying problem is and on what surgical technique is chosen. However, as a general statement, the success rate for cervical surgeries is fairly good. Properly selected patients can have very good outcomes from surgery, with rapid return to normal functioning.
Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein
New York, NY
The success rate for this surgery is quite high. The success for relieving symptoms in the absence of workman's compensation litigation or personal injury litigation is around 97-98% in relieving the symptoms the patient is presented with. So that 97% of the patients are basically satisfied with the surgical outcome. And the fusion rate varies depending on the number of levels but still the satisfactory outcome is above 95%. Success rates certainly are variable and depend on many factors. Certainly there are never guarantees.
Dr. Rick Sasso
Indianapolis, IN
Very good studies show that there is a 95 to 96 percent chance of good-to-excellent results after an anterior cervical fusion in regards to getting rid of arm and neck pain. It is probably one of the most highly successful operations that we do as spine surgeons.
Dr. Allan Levi
Miami, FL
The chances of success after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion are high, in the range of 90% in properly selected patients.
Dr. W. Christopher Urban
Glen Burnie, MD
The key to success in cervical surgery – or any surgery, for that matter – is proper patient selection. A patient’s clinical symptoms should correlate with imaging studies, such as x-rays and MRI. A technically well-performed operation on the cervical spine has an extremely high success rate. Typically, more than 90 percent of patients are satisfied in terms of pain reduction and improvements in neurological function.
Dr. Sebastian Lattuga
Rockville Centre, NY
Success rates generally are very high for relief of neck and arm pain in patients with cervical disc disease. Patients surveyed show a greater than 95% satisfaction rate.
Dr. Paul Saiz
Mesa, AZ
When a neck surgery/fusion is performed the best results are typically for arm pain. Neck pain relief typically is variable but the vast majority of patients report success with pain control after a surgery. Success simply means that your pain is better after surgery than it was before surgery and quality of life has been improved.
Dr. Kambiz Hannani
Los Angeles, CA
Although the results depend on the spinal condition involved, neck fusions tend to have a high success rate with low risk.
Dr. Mark Testaiuti
Haddonfield, NJ
It depends on how you gauge success: fusion, pain relief, or both. For one level the chances of fusion are excellent, 85-95%. Multi-level fusions have lower fusion success rates. A successful surgery is one in which patient's symptoms have been relieved without complication. For cervical surgery, rates vary on number of levels from 80-90% for one to < 65% for two or more. Occasionally a fusion may not be completely evident on X-ray but the patient feels fine. This would be considered successful.
Dr. Dennis G. Crandall
Mesa, AZ
In our experience, excellent pain relief with disk surgery occurs in >90% of patients. For patients who require more extensive decompression and fusion, the success rates are usually above 80% for most procedures.
Dr. Mark R. McLaughlin
Princeton, NJ
Depending upon your condition, health, and how things go in the operating room, a person stands an 80-95% success rate from anterior cervcial disc surgery.
Dr. Kevin Yoo
Escondido, CA
In general, the chance of achieving arm and hand pain relief is greater than 90 percent, and the chance of achieving neck pain relief is greater than 80 percent.
Dr. Randy Davis
Glen Burnie, MD
Chances of success vary depending upon what the original problem is. The vast majority of the time I would say that cervical surgery is generally quite successful with much less than a 5% chance of significant risk or complications.
Dr. Jeffrey C. Wang
Los Angeles, CA
The success rate for cervical surgery including fusion is extremely high. A great deal depends on the specific diagnosis; however, overall the success rates are extremely high.
Dr. Theodore A. Belanger
Charlotte, NC
In the hands of a well-trained, dedicated spine surgeon using modern techniques, anterior neck surgery is one of the most successful and satisfying surgeries done. The likelihood of major improvement in neck and arm pain is roughly 95 percent. The risk of serious complications in the average, healthy patient under these circumstances is less than 1 percent. And, when revision surgery is necessary, it is also highly likely to be successful.
Dr. Douglas Slaughter
Mesa, AZ
The chances for complete pain relief for actual neck pain are not great. In most papers, reported results decrease the neck pain from 70% to 80% or 85%. If one is talking about relief of arm pain from a herniated disc, that success rate is greater than 90% to 95%.

The commentary above recounts the experiences of these physicians. Medtronic invited them to share their stories candidly. Keep in mind that results vary; not every patient's response is the same. Talk with your doctor to learn more about any products that are mentioned above.

It is important that you discuss the potential risks, complications and benefits of spinal surgery with your doctor prior to receiving treatment, and that you rely on your doctor's judgment. Only your doctor can determine whether you are a suitable candidate for this treatment.

Published: May 04, 2007
Updated: April 19, 2010