Emergency surgery may be needed if the abscess is large enough to press on the spinal cord. The surgeon enters the spine from the front of the neck and removes the disc at the level of the abscess. This operation is called a discectomy.
A thin rubber tubing called a catheter is threaded through the space left open by the discectomy. The catheter goes into the epidural space where the pus is taken out. The space is then rinsed thoroughly to remove any bacteria or debris.
Antibiotic therapy is started right away. The patient is given a special collar to support the neck until healing occurs. Fusion of the spine is not usually necessary.