What is anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery?
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a procedure which allows the herniated disc and degenerative structures to be removed and followed by the fusion procedure in order to stabilize the cervical vertebrae.
Why it is done?
This procedure is used to relieve nerve root and/or spinal cord pressure and to alleviate symptoms caused by nerve compression.
How it is done?
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion procedure is performed under general anesthesia. The incision is around 3-cm long. The surgeon approaches the degenerated disc from the front (anterior) of the spine through the space between neck muscles. The disc material is then removed and the pain is relieved as the pressure is removed from the pinched nerve root. A bone graft, which acts as a bridge to allow a new bone to grow, is then inserted into the disc space. The surgeon then closes the incision, which usually just leaves a small scar.
In some cases, the surgeon may insert screws to stabilize the spine while the treated area heals and fusion occurs.
Advantages of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion
- Minimal pain from surgery because there is no muscle damage during the surgery.
- Quick recovery time
- Gold standard procedure for cervical vertebrae diseases
- Lower cost compared to artificial cervical disc replacement surgery
Risks and Complications
Complications in neck surgery such as this are infrequent and usually minor. However, as with any spine surgery, there are risks, including the possibility of:
- Adjacent vertebrae degeneration due to extra stress and load by fusion of spine segment
- Swallowing difficulty and temporary hoarseness
- Failure of bone graft healing to create a fusion
- General complications of any surgery including bleeding, infection, blood clots and reaction to anesthesia
You are advised to discuss the potential risks and complications with your surgeon prior to having ACDF surgery. However, risks from any surgery can be reduced by following the surgeon's instructions before and after the neck surgery.
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