Anterior cervical discecetomy and fusion
Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) is a standard surgical procedure used to remove a herniated or degenerated disc from the cervical (neck) area of the spine. ACDF is the most commonly used procedure for this type of condition and usually provides excellent results.
When ACDF is performed, the surgeon opens the front (anterior) of the neck area (cervical) so as not to disturb the spine, spinal cord, or strong muscles in the back of the neck, and removes one or more discs from the spine (discectomy). The surgeon then fills the area with a bone graft (fusion), which may be held in place by metal plates and screws. When the body begins its natural healing process after surgery, new bone cells will grow around the bone graft, creating a single piece of bone to join the vertebrae above and below the discectomy. If metal plates and screws have been used, bone may grow around these and reinforce them.
Some symptoms that may indicate that a patient is a candidate for ACDF are significant numbness or weakness in limbs, especially hands and arms, and significant arm pain which may be accompanied by neck pain. Patients will first have diagnostic tests, such as MRI, CT scan, and/or myelogram to determine the presence of a herniated or degenerative disc. Even after a diagnosis is made, patients will still discuss non-surgical options with their orthopaedic surgeon before proceeding. Non-surgical treatments can be highly successful in diminishing the symptoms of herniated discs, and may even heal herniated discs after a few months.
Prior to electing to have ACDF, the surgeon and patient will also discuss different types of bone grafts, including grafts from the patient’s own bone (autograft), grafts from donor bone (allograft), and bone grafts from man-made materials.
Most ACDF patients are able to go home the same day, and are prescribed pain medication for a limited time period. Full recovery takes four to six weeks.
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