England prop Phil Vickery is to undergo a back operation on Friday and will miss the remainder of the RBS 6 Nations Championship and the rest of the season.
Vickery had a consultation with his specialist, Richard Nelson, in Bristol on Tuesday morning and the decision was taken to operate immediately.
Gloucester skipper Vickery has been out of action with severe back pain for the last four weeks.
He is suffering from a disc problem sustained in a training session earlier this month.
The advice of his surgeon earlier this month was to wait and see if the condition improved by itself. Vickery was even hoping he would be back for the later stages of the RBS 6 Nations.
But all hope that he would appear for club or country again this season vanished when Nelson decided the time had come for surgery to correct the condition.