Trouble Swallowing after Neck Surgery

Category: Minimally Invasive Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: December 30, 2014

swallowing after surgerySwallowing is an essential bodily function. Certain spine surgery operations can impede a person’s ability to swallow – which can quickly become a serious problem. In this article we are going to discuss difficulty swallowing following a neck operation.

Neck Surgery & Swallowing Problems

Certain cervical spine surgeries require an incision in the front of the neck. The most common procedure that involves entry through the neck is an Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion (ACDF for short). We talked recently about recovering your voice after ACDF surgery – more on that here – but swallowing is a related issue that can crop up after this surgery.

An ACDF surgery involves removing a deteriorating spinal disc in the neck and fusing the adjacent vertebrae together to prevent movement. While many minimally invasive spine surgeries involve and incision in the back, this procedure requires a small incision in the front of the neck. The incision itself can cause inflammation and make it difficult for a patient to swallow normal foods post-op.

When to Seek Help

Trouble swallowing after an ACDF spine surgery is to be expected. Your surgeon will walk you through what to expect during your pre-surgical consultation. After an ACDF surgery you should expect some difficulty swallowing. You may not be able to consume solid foods for a few days or weeks after your procedure. Jello, ice cream, juice, and shakes should be on your grocery list for a while after your operation.

Swallowing issues can sometimes be indicative of an infection after surgery. To diagnose the issue you may need to see an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) doctor for a swallow test.

If you experience swallowing troubles for months after your surgery, or if you can’t even get liquids down, contact your surgeon’s office right away to see if there is a more serious underlying issue at hand.

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