Makalio, the second-string hooker behind All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor who has played 43 games for the Super Rugby champions, injured his neck following a collision near the end of Tasman's successful Mitre 10 Cup campaign last year.
Medical investigations and specialist opinions resulted in a decision for Makalio to undergo surgery to manage the injury.
A date hasn't been set for the operation but it has been confirmed that he will miss both the Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa and Sky Super Rugby trans-Tasman competitions.
Once he has completed his surgery it is expected his return-to-play process will be clearer.
Crusaders head coach said Bay of Plenty hooker Nathan Vella had joined the squad as an injury replacement for the full season.
"We really feel for Drewza [Makalio], and we wish him all the best with surgery and his recovery.
"While he won't take part in any games this season, Drew is a really important member of our squad and his contribution off the field will be significant. We look forward to connecting with him on his return to Christchurch following surgery," he said.