Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) neck surgery is a procedure that is conducted to remove a degenerative disc from the cervical spine (in the neck). During this procedure, a surgeon removes an intervertebral disc – in whole or in part –from the neck, replaces the disc with a bone graft and stabilizes the spine with implants.
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; cervical indicates the procedure is conducted in the cervical spine segment (which is the upper spine that supports the head and neck); discectomy indicates the disc will be removed surgically; and fusion means that the affected vertebrae will be fused together. Thus, an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is a procedure in which a surgeon gains access to the cervical spine through the front of the neck, removes the source of neck pain and fuses the vertebrae together.
If a patient is experiencing significant neck pain that hasn’t responded to extensive, conservative treatment, ACDF neck surgery may be recommended. During this highly invasive traditional open spine procedure, a surgeon gains access to the spine through a large incision in the front of the neck. The deteriorated disc is then identified and either entirely or partially removed to decompress the neighboring nerves or spinal cord. The surgeon then installs a bone graft between the affected vertebrae to facilitate bone growth. The graft can take three forms:
- Autograft – comes from the patient, typically the hip bone
- Allograft – harvested from a donor
- Cages – hollow device 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 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. To learn more about minimally invasive procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today.