Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a surgical procedure performed through the front of the neck to remove a herniated disc in the cervical (neck) spine. A herniated disc, also known as a bulging disc, is a condition in which the inner gelatinous substance of the disc escapes through a tear in the outer, fibrous ring (annulus fibrosus). This may compress the spinal cord or the surrounding nerves, resulting in neck or arm pain.
Anterior cervical discectomy is one of the most common surgical procedures for the management of cervical spine disorders including disc herniation, cervical degenerative disc disease, spondylosis, and spinal stenosis.
The aim of this surgery is to relieve your pain and stabilize the cervical spine. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and fluoroscopic guidance. Your surgeon approaches the cervical spine through a small incision in the front of the neck. The soft tissues are gently retracted, to access the cervical spine. The damaged disc, along with any loose disc fragments or bone spurs, is then removed. A bone graft, taken either from the patient's own body (autograft) or from the donor (allograft), is then placed in the prepared disc space. The vertebrae are then stabilized with the help of a metal plate and screws. The soft tissues are repositioned and the incision is closed.
You may experience slight discomfort, pain at the incision site, neck muscle spasms, or other related symptoms after the procedure. You would be advised to wear a cervical brace to provide support and limit cervical motion during healing process. You may begin physical therapy, as instructed by your surgeon.
The potential risks of ACDF surgery may include infection, bleeding, nerve injury, failure of bone graft healing (non union), problems due to anesthesia, and persistent pain.