ACDF Surgery Procedure in the Neck Information | AllSpine
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Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion

What is Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion?


A discectomy is a procedure that removes a damaged, arthritic, or herniated intervertebral disc (the “cushion” between adjacent bones of the spine). An anterior surgical approach means an approach from the front of the body, and the cervical spine is the spine in the neck. So an anterior cervical discectomy is a procedure that removes a damaged intervertebral disc from the spine in the neck, using a surgical approach from the front of the neck.

An anterior cervical discectomy is often performed along with procedures called fusion and fixation to ensure spinal stability. A fusion is the implantation of a bone graft that will fuse (grow together) with vertebrae (bones of the spine) in the area. A fixation is the implantation of screws, rods or plates. A fixation is a common way to hold the bones in place while they fuse. An Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion is often abbreviated ACDF.

Conditions Treated with ACDF:

  • Neck Pain
  • Arm Pain, Tingling & Numbness

When is ACDF performed?

Anterior cervical discectomy is performed for patients who have experienced changes such as degeneration and bone spurs (growth of bony projections) in the discs of the cervical spine, and for those with herniated discs.

These conditions can affect the amount of space available for the spinal cord and nerves. As a result, the spinal cord and nerves can become compressed (pinched), and even injured.

Before surgery is considered, the Dr. Rezaiamiri may recommend nonoperative measures such as pain medications and physical therapy.

Surgery is typically the recommended treatment when the spinal cord is at risk of damage. Surgery may also be warranted for those patients who do not find relief with nonoperative treatment.

An anterior cervical discectomy, like any surgical procedure, is associated with a certain amount of risk. However, this risk is usually small. Recommendations vary by case, and a neurosurgeon will be able to explain the risks and benefits of the procedure for any individual case.

How long is anterior cervical discectomy and fusion & where is it performed?

An ACDF typically takes about one to two hours to perform depending on the number of disc levels. It is performed in one of our surgery centers in Stockbridge or Decatur or it may be necessary to have it performed at the hospital.

What to expect after ACDF surgery?

Typically 3 weeks is enough time to get back to light work around the house, such as lifting up to 10 pounds. However, ACDF surgery recovery time varies from patient to patient. The quickest recovery can be people returning to work within days or a week after surgery. Other patients may start physical therapy a few weeks after the surgery takes place, and continue for 2-3 months.

After the surgery the main concerns are relieving pain and inflammation at the surgery site. Using various pain treatments such as cold packs, massage, and other techniques can help in the recovery. Exercising the muscles that stabilize the back is also important, and learning how to go through physically demanding activities safely without harming your back is important.