Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a surgery that removes damaged or degenerative discs from the spine. It is performed to provide relief from neck or back pain that can result due to damaged spinal discs.
The ACDF Surgery
The surgery is performed to remove or treat damaged discs that can cause intense pain anywhere in the spinal column. The term anterior refers to ‘in front, as the surgeon will access the discs through the front and not the back.
The anterior surgery makes it easier to reach the spine without causing any damage to the spine and the neck. The tissues inside the neck can be moved to access the spine and remove the damaged discs.
The fusion procedure is done after the removal of discs (discectomy). It involves the placement of implants or bone grafts in place of the disc that was removed. The grafts will grow over time. It helps to stabilize the spine and prevent further problems. Titanium screws and plates are used to attach the disc implants to the bones.
Once the new discs are in place, the neck incision is closed. Before placing the sutures, your surgeon will reposition the removed muscle.
In most cases, you can return home the same day as your surgery. The recovery process can be completed within a few weeks. You may need to refrain from any strenuous activities during this time. Your surgeon is likely to call you after a month or two after the surgery to assess the surgical site and check the discs for improvements.
The Need for ACDF
Spinal discs can become damaged due to aging, injuries, and diseases. Arthritis can affect any bone in the body, including the spine. It is an extremely painful condition that can damage the spinal discs and the only effective treatment may be ACDF surgery.
Damaged discs can have swelling and even dry out. Due to swelling or thinning of the discs, the normal cushioning in the spinal column may reduce. Without proper cushioning between the bones, you can experience neck discomfort and pain. Discs can also break open due to prevailing damage and this is referred to as herniation.
The pain from damaged discs can also cause soreness in the muscles. You may experience pain in your shoulders and head too. If non-surgical options to treat pain from damaged discs fail, ACDF can be an effective solution to find relief from the problem.
The Anterior Approach Advantage
The surgery through the front of the neck offers the surgeon full view of the spinal column. The surgeon can see all the cervical discs and assess the health of each one. It is also a less invasive surgical approach for treating herniated or damaged spinal discs.
You can expect less post-surgical pain compared to other spinal procedures. The incision size required for ACDF surgery is also quite small. After the initial neck incision, the surgeon needs to remove only a thin muscle segment. It helps to reduce post-operative pain and the recovery period.
Contact Our Office
If you’re experiencing chronic neck pain, you should consider undergoing ACDF surgery. To learn more about the treatment, contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kevin James.