Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a procedure used to reduce the movement and instability caused by deteriorating cartilage or bulging discs. First, the herniated or degenerative disc in the neck is removed, then the vertebral bones above and below the disc are fused together to stabilize the cervical segment and reduce the associated pain.

HOW IT WORKS

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia. An incision is made on the right or left side of the neck, then the structures of the neck are carefully moved until the bones of the vertebrae and the damaged cervical disc can be seen. The damaged disc is then removed, as are any bone spurs that might be pressing on nerves.

Then, to prevent the vertebrae from collapsing and rubbing together, a bone graft is inserted into the open disc space, serving as a bridge between the two vertebrae. The bone graft comes from the patient’s hip or pelvic region, from a cadaver donor, or is made from man-made compounds.

The bone graft and vertebrae are fixed in place with metal plates and screws to create a spinal fusion. Within 3 to 6 months, the bone graft heals, joining the two vertebrae by forming one solid piece of bone.

Conditions Treated Using MIS Procedures

ACDF may be recommended to treat the following conditions:

  • Degenerative disc disease: gradual deterioration of the disc between the vertebrae, which is part of the normal aging process
  • Herniated or bulging disc: condition in which the outer portion of the vertebral disc is torn, allowing the inner portion of the disc to extrude through its fibers

Benefits of Treatment

The benefits associated with a successful ACDF procedure include:

  • Long-term stability in the damaged area of the spine
  • A fast healing and recovery process
  • The opportunity to experience significant relief from pain, numbness, tingling and weakness.

Are You a Candidate?

You may be a candidate for the ACDF procedure if:

  • Diagnostic tests reveal you have a herniated or degenerative disc.
  • You have a herniated disc that’s large enough to place ongoing pressure on nearby nerves.
  • You have significant weakness in your hand or arm.
  • You have arm pain worse than neck pain.
  • Your symptoms have not improved with physical therapy or medication for at least 6-8 weeks.