What Is an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion?

An anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) — also called an anterior cervical decompression — is a minimally invasive spinal procedure used to treat a damaged or degenerated spinal disc in the neck. During the procedure, the damaged disc is removed and adjacent vertebrae are fused. The purposes of the procedure are to reduce neck pain and symptoms, relieve pressure on trapped nerve roots or the spinal cord, stabilize the cervical spine and eliminate painful movement between vertebrae. ACDF is commonly used to treat symptomatic herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, cervical spinal stenosis and bone spurs caused by arthritis.   

Normal wear and tear with age, repetitive movements, poor posture, traumatic accidents and genetics can lead to torn, damaged, bulging or herniated spinal discs in the neck. In many cases, a bulging or herniated disc presses against nearby nerves or the spinal cord, causing pain, numbness, tingling and weakness that travels down the neck, shoulders, arms and hands.

Disc degeneration can cause significant pain, disability and loss of movement in the neck. ACDF helps relieve pain and restore full range of motion to neck movement.  

What to Expect During the Procedure

At Integrity Spine and Orthopedics, we perform ACDF as an outpatient procedure so that you can return home the same day. ACDF uses an anterior approach, meaning surgery is performed through the front of the neck, instead of the back. An anterior approach is advantageous because it provides uncomplicated, direct visualization of the cervical discs without disturbing the spinal cord, nerves or larger neck muscles. At the procedure, your surgeon will place you under anesthesia and make a small incision in your neck over the affected area. Using special tools, your doctor will move aside muscle and soft tissues to reach the damaged disc. 

The damaged disc is removed and replaced with a bone graft. The implant helps maintain the proper height in the spine and realign the vertebrae. Your surgeon will also place metal hardware and additional bone grafts along both sides of the spine to hold the graft in place. Over several months, as the body heals, the bone grafts will fuse with adjacent vertebrae.   

Recovery

ACDF is a minimally invasive procedure, which means it has fewer risks than open surgery and requires less downtime and recovery time. You’ll be able to return home the same day as surgery and our staff will give you specific instructions to help aid your recovery. You may have some pain and weakness following the procedure, but many patients are able to return to normal activities within a few weeks of surgery.

Some of the primary benefits of minimally invasive surgery include:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Fewer complications and bloss loss during surgery
  • Less damage to surrounding muscle and soft tissues
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Less post-op pain and less reliance on strong pain medications during recovery
  • Faster recovery and rehabilitation
  • Better cosmetic results with minimal scarring 

We encourage you to learn more about minimally invasive surgery and the benefits here:

5 Advantages of Minimally Invasive Procedures  

Contact Integrity Spine and Orthopedics to Find Relief From Back or Neck Pain

At Integrity Spine and Orthopedics, we specialize in identifying, diagnosing and treating a wide range of acute and chronic back, spine and joint conditions. If you’re experiencing back or joint pain, weakness, or a loss of mobility, reach out to us today to schedule a consultation with our team. We provide compassionate and comprehensive care to help you find relief from pain and get back to doing the activities you love. 

Call us at 904-456-0017 or contact us online to request an appointment.

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