Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a type of neck surgery that involves removing a damaged disc to relieve spinal cord or nerve root pressure and alleviate corresponding pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling. A discectomy is a form of surgical decompression, so the procedure may also be called an anterior cervical decompression.
The surgery has 2 parts:
Anterior cervical discectomy – The surgery is approached through the anterior, or front, of the cervical spine (neck). The disc is then removed from between two vertebral bones.
Fusion – A fusion surgery is done at the same time as the discectomy operation in order to stabilize the cervical segment. A fusion involves placing bone graft and/or implants where the disc originally was in order to provide stability and strength to the area.
While this surgery is most commonly done to treat a symptomatic cervical herniated disc, it may also be done for cervical degenerative disc disease. It is also commonly done to remove bone spurs (osteophytes) caused by arthritis and to alleviate the symptoms associated with cervical spinal stenosis.
Lumbar Discectomy & Fusion – A lumbar discectomy is the removal of a lumbar disc or discs and then the fusion of two or more vertebras to provide stabilization of the spine. A discectomy is recommended for patients who have suffered a serious disc herniation as well as for those suffering from degenerative disc disease. This procedure is not right for all patients, though. In addition, depending on your specific situation, the doctor may recommend only a partial discectomy or a full discectomy and fusion procedure.
While a discectomy and fusion will provide relief from pain, muscle weakness and other symptoms, not all surgeries are the same. Traditional open procedures are still used, but they come with potential complications not found with minimally invasive surgeries.
With an open surgery, the patient can expect a longer recovery time due to the invasive nature of the surgery and the amount of trauma caused to underlying tissues, as well as a greater chance of infection and more pain during recovery. The doctors main focus is performing endoscopic procedures when necessary which is often more beneficial for the patient.