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ACDF Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion surgery is a minimally invasive procedure used to remove a herniated or ruptured disc in the neck. This surgical procedure may relieve spinal cord or nerve root pressure and alleviate corresponding pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling. A cervical disc herniation can be removed through an anterior approach (through the front of the neck) to relieve spinal cord or nerve root pressure and alleviate corresponding pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling.

Who Is The Ideal Candidate?

You may be a candidate for this surgery if:

  • Diagnostic tests show that you have a herniated or degenerative disc
  • You have significant weakness in your arm or hand
  • Arm pain is worse than neck pain
  • Your symptoms have not digressed with physical therapy or medication

Luckily, only very few people who have a herniated disc are in enough pain to consider surgery. A lot of times, the pain will decrease with time and your herniated disc should heal after a couple of months if you decide against surgery. A neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon will perform your surgery. These specialized doctors at Florida Surgery Consultants have training tailored specifically to the spine and other parts of the nervous system, but if you are feeling hesitant, your doctor will be more than happy to tell you about the training and qualifications they have.

What Are The Risks?

Any time a surgery is performed, there are risks involved and this is inevitable. A few risks that are specific to Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion:

  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Vertebrae failing to fuse
  • Bone graft migration
  • Nerve damage

Although there are risks to this surgery, if you are experiencing intense pain, it may be worth it. A surgical option is the decision of the patient, but take note that our trained medical professionals will not recommend surgery unless they feel that it is absolutely necessary.

Preparation

In preparation for the procedure, you are positioned on your back. You are anesthetized. The surgeon creates a small incision in the front of your neck. The structures within your neck are gently moved aside to create a path to your spine. The surgeon carefully removes the damaged disc. This leaves a space between the vertebrae.

Graft Inserted

The surgeon inserts a bone graft into this space. The graft may be made from a piece of bone taken from your hip. It can also be made from donor bone, or from a synthetic material. The graft fills the open space. It holds the vertebrae in the proper position. The surgeon may secure the graft with a metal plate and screws.

End of Procedure

When the procedure is complete, the incision is closed. As your spine heals, new bone will grow. The graft will become permanently attached to the vertebrae. This is called a “fusion.”

ACDF General Questions & FAQs

There are many factors that come into play when it comes to the recovery of an ACDF surgery. Recovery time for an ACDF surgery is anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months. Physical therapy and resting will generally speed up the recovery process.

It depends on the type of work you do, if your job has lots of heavy lifting using your back you may not be able to return to that job. As for a simple desk job you may be able to return to work as early as 3 days.

Typically, the success rate for an ACDF surgery is around 75% for positive results.

After surgery, our nurses will schedule a post op appointment with our surgeon that performed the procedure. This is usually 2-3 weeks after your surgery.

Before surgery we ask you to stop taking anti-inflammatory medication at least 10 days before surgery. There are also some vitamins that you may want to avoid such as Vitamin K, fishoil, and CoQ10. Please give us a call to find out what other vitamins / medications you may want to avoid. 

A one level fusion does not limit much mobility, it is estimated that 5-7% mobility is lost. If there is more than a one level fusion, more mobility will be lost.

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Glossary

initial segment of a nerve leaving the central nervous system

Nerve Root
Spinal Nerve Roots

Artificial or bone substitute that is used to repair your bone.

A Disc in your spine that has lost fluid becoming degenerative (collapsed disc)

Collapsed Disc MRI
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