What is ACDF neck surgery?

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) neck surgery is a traditional open neck fusion that removes a degenerative disc from the cervical spine (neck) and fuses together the two surrounding vertebrae to stabilize the spine. This surgery is used to treat severe spine conditions that involve damaged discs, such as a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease.

If you have been diagnosed with a damaged disc in the cervical spine, you may be recommended to have cervical fusion if months of conservative treatments do not provide any lasting pain relief. While the decision of spinal fusion can sometimes be overwhelming, you should be aware of alternative surgical treatment options that are safer and effective alternatives compared to traditional open neck fusion,^ like Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive spine surgery.

As you research the minimally invasive cervical fusion procedure at Laser Spine Institute, we encourage you to contact our dedicated team with any questions or concerns regarding your condition or one of our procedures. We are here to help guide you through your journey to wellness. Read on to learn more about the benefits of minimally invasive cervical fusion surgery compared to traditional anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).

Definition of ACDF neck surgery

A better understanding of ACDF neck surgery requires a closer look at the title of the procedure. Anterior refers to the front of the neck, while cervical indicates the procedure is conducted in the cervical spine segment — the upper spine that supports the head and neck. A discectomy indicates the disc will be removed surgically and a fusion refers to the affected vertebrae that will be joined together. Therefore, an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a procedure in which the surgeon will access the cervical spine through the front of the neck, remove the damaged disc that is causing you pain and fuse together the surrounding vertebrae to stabilize the spine.

What happens during a ACDF neck procedure?

During a highly invasive traditional open neck procedure like ACDF, a large incision is made in the front of the neck to access the spine. The deteriorated disc is then identified and entirely removed to decompress the local nerves or spinal cord. The surgeon then installs a bone graft between the affected vertebrae to facilitate bone growth and stabilize the area. This graft can take three forms, including:

  • Autografts — which come from the patient, typically the hip bone
  • Allografts — which are harvested from a donor
  • Cages — which consist of hollow devices packed with bone shavings

Finally, the surgeon will install metal plates, rods or screws to stabilize the spine, while the vertebrae grow around the graft.

Minimally invasive alternatives to ACDF neck surgery

Minimally invasive neck surgery is a compelling alternative to ACDF neck surgery because it requires no grafts or implants and is performed with only a small incision. This is a less invasive alternative to traditional open neck fusion. Its focus is to relieve neck pain, weakness and tingling associated with a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease.

Our minimally invasive stabilization surgery at Laser Spine Institute treats severely damaged discs in the neck by removing the damaged disc and replacing it with an artificial disc to stabilize the spine. This procedure is performed through a less than 1-inch, muscle-sparing incision. The minimally invasive approach to cervical fusion is performed on an outpatient basis and allows our patients to experience no lengthy recovery^ compared to patients who choose to undergo traditional open neck procedures.

Reach out to our dedicated team today and ask for your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, which has helped more than 75,000 patients to date get their lives back from chronic neck and back conditions.