Jason E. Smith MD

Spine Surgeon with Baton Rouge Orthopaedic Clinic 

Call Us:  225-924-2424

Anterior cervical discectomy with fusion (ACDF) is a surgical procedure that involves relieving the pressure placed on nerve roots and/or the spinal cord by either a herniated disc or bone spurs in the neck.

What Is Anterior Cervical Discectomy With Fusion?

Anterior is the approach.  A small incision is made in the anterior neck either on the left or right side.  Cervical refers to the 7 vertebrae of the neck. Discs are the spongy, cartilaginous pads between each vertebra, and ectomy means “to take out”. In a cervical discectomy, the surgeon  removes all or part of the disc and some bone that’s pressing on the nerves and causing pain.

Spinal fusion involves placing bone graft between two or more affected vertebrae to promote bone growth between the vertebral bodies. A titanium plate is placed over the graft while the bone fuses.  The vertebral bone and bone graft eventually grow together to join the vertebrae and stabilize the spine.

Pressure placed on nerve roots, ligaments, or the spinal cord by a herniated disc or bone spur may cause:

Pain in the neck and/or arms
Lack of coordination
Numbness or weakness in the arms, forearms or fingers.

How Is An Anterior Cervical Discectomy With Fusion Performed?

Through a small incision made near the front of the neck, the surgeon:

Removes the intervertebral disc to access the compressed neural structures;
Relieves the pressure by removing the source of the compression;
Places a bone graft between the adjacent vertebrae; and
Uses instrumentation – titanium plate and screws that will provide extra support and stability to help ensure proper fusion.

How Long Will It Take Me To Recover?

This is an individual response and can vary.  Typical recovery time is 6 weeks for being back to normal activities.  There are some that can return to a sedentary job within 2 weeks post-op.

Are There Any Potential Risks Or Complications?

Complications such as infection, nerve damage, blood clots, blood loss and bowel and bladder problems, along with complications associated with anesthesia, are some of the potential risks of spinal surgery. A potential risk inherent to spinal fusion is failure of the vertebral bone and graft to properly fuse, a condition that may require additional surgery.

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion