What is anterior cervical discectomy & fusion (ACDF)?

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a surgical procedure where doctors remove a damaged or herniated spine disc. This can relieve pressure on your spinal cord or nerves. When there's pressure on your spinal cord or it's compressed, you experience pain, numbness, tingling and weakness. This typically happens in your neck or arm.

The surgery involves accessing the back of the cervical disc from the front of your neck. Doctors remove the disc from your throat area. This is less likely to disturb the spinal cord, nerves and muscles in your neck.

What to expect from anterior cervical discectomy & fusion (ACDF)

Doctors do ACDF under general anesthesia. That means you're completely unconscious and unable to feel anything during the operation. You lie on your back on the operating table so the surgeon can access your throat.

After cleaning and disinfecting one side of your neck, your doctor makes a small incision in your skin. They move muscles and other tissues out of the way. Using a special type of X-ray known as a fluoroscope, the doctor finds the damaged disc(s). A tool spreads apart the discs above and below the damaged one.

The doctor removes the damaged disc along with any other bone spurs that press on the spinal cord or nerves. The surgeon installs a bone graft. This is a piece of bone they take from your hip. They can also install an artificial disc in place of the removed one. This fuses your neck bones and creates stability in your neck.

Recovery from surgery takes up to six weeks. Your doctor may give you a neck brace to provide support and limit neck movement.

Common conditions requiring anterior cervical discectomy & fusion (ACDF)

Bulging or herniated discs and degenerative disc disease are the most common conditions that ACDF treats. In many instances, herniated discs heal on their own or with non-surgical treatments after a few months. However, if you're still suffering with neck pain after trying other treatment options, your doctor may recommend ACDF.

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