Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a surgery to remove a herniated or degenerative disc in the neck area of the spine. It may recommended if physical therapy or medications fail to relieve your neck or arm pain caused by pressure on the spinal nerves. Discectomy literally means “cutting out the disc”. The surgeon reaches the damaged disc from the front (anterior) of the spine through the throat area. By moving aside the neck muscles, trachea, and esophagus, the disc and bony vertebrae are exposed. Surgery from the front of the neck is more accessible than from the back (posterior) because the disc can be reached without disturbing the spinal cord, spinal nerves, and the strong neck muscles. Depending on your particular symptoms, one disc (single-level) or more (multi-level) may be removed. After the disc is removed, the space between the bony vertebrae is empty. To prevent the vertebrae from collapsing and rubbing together, a spacer bone graft is inserted to fill the open disc space. The graft serves as a bridge between the two vertebrae to create a spinal fusion. The bone graft and vertebrae are fixed in place with metal plates and screws.
Recovery time generally lasts 4 to 6 weeks. X-rays may be taken after several weeks to verify that fusion is occurring. A cervical collar or brace is worn during recovery to provide support and limit motion while your neck heals or fuses
Cosmetic transverse 5-6 cm long scar along one side of the neck
Serious complications while possible are unlikely. In addition to the usual risks associated with anaesthesia, other risks include: