Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion Surgery
An anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is one of the most common spine surgeries performed for treating a patient with a herniated cervical disc, a degenerative disc, radiculopathy, or spinal cord compression. ACDF is a low-risk, minimally invasive spine surgery that removes the disc and alleviates pressure on the nerves or spinal cord
The resulting open space is filled with a graft allowing fusion to eventually occur. Primary indications for this cervical spine surgery are spinal cord compression, worsening neurologic symptoms, and symptoms persistent despite conservative treatment such as physical therapy and medications.
As with any neck or spinal operation you will want to make sure you’re working with an experienced spine surgeon who gives you the best chance of making an excellent recovery and returning to your normal lifestyle.
Keep reading for more information about anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery and whether you might be a good candidate.
When to Consider Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion
ACDF is indicated for spine conditions caused by trauma, aging, or deterioration that can result in worsening damage to the vertebrae, nerves, spinal cord, or vertebral disc, such as:
● Degenerated Discs — Wear and tear causes discs to shrink, resulting in spinal nerve pressure.
● Herniated Cervical Discs — The disc’s interior gel-like material leaks, putting pressure on the spinal nerves.
● Spinal cord compression — This condition results in spinal cord pressure and neurologic dysfunction.
● Pinched Nerve (radiculopathy) — Nerves entering the vertebrae where they connect to the spine are compacted or impinged by a vertebral bone spur or disc herniation.
Treatment Options to Consider
Before surgery is usually recommended, other treatment options to include:
- Avoiding strenuous activity to give your body a chance to heal.
- Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and ease your pain.
- Physical therapy to correct misalignments and improve range of motion.
- Corticosteroid injections into the membrane surrounding your spinal cord to directly coat the nerves to ease inflammation and pain.
If conservative treatments have failed or you have neurologic deficits, your Dallas anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgeon, Dr. David Barnett, will help you understand this minimally invasive procedure, risks of surgery and the recovery program.
It’s important to note that a second opinion is always encouraged to ensure an anterior cervical discectomy offers the best chance for improvement based on your unique medical history.
The Surgical Procedure: Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion
- Step #1: ACDF surgery begins with a small incision on your neck.
- Step #2: The thin layer of muscle underneath is moved aside to expose the vertebrae for the operation.
- Step #3: A powerful microscope is moved into position.
- Step #4: Utilizing microscopic tools and equipment, Dr. Barnett removes the disc herniation, and any bone spurs that are pinching the nerve.
- Step #5: A graft protected by a small titanium plate is placed where the injured disc was removed.
- Step #6: The operation usually takes Dr. Barnett 60-90 minutes to safely perform.
Over the next few months, the graft will grow into the two surrounding vertebrae, restoring the strength and stability of your spine.
What to expect after ACDF surgery
Expect the full recovery process to take between three to four months. At the four to six week post-surgery follow-up visit, X-rays will help confirm that the surgery site is healing. A cervical collar is recommended for the first several weeks of recovery when patients are up and about or riding in a car, but not all the time.
Most patients may resume driving and low impact exercise within four weeks post-surgery. Patients with office jobs may return to work after the first week. Most patients may return to normal activities and strenuous exercise within 3 months.
Schedule an appointment with Dr. David Barnett
Our leading neurosurgeon, Dr. David Barnett, specializes in treating cervical spine conditions with over three decades of experience as a board-certified neurosurgeon. He is also notably a previous neurological consultant for the Dallas Cowboys and now serves as one for professional football programs.
With a conservative approach that values creating the best outcome for the patient versus rushing into surgical procedures, Dr. Barnett has helped thousands of Texans return to an active lifestyle after being sidelined by spinal conditions.
If you would like more information about anterior cervical discectomy and fusion and to find out whether you are a candidate, contact the office of David Barnett M.D. to schedule your consultation.
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What Our Patients Have to Say
From start to finish, Dr. Barnett and his staff were always informative and professional. Dr. Barnett performed my neck surgery and lower back surgery all during a pandemic and everything worked out perfect. Highly recommend Dr. Barnett. Top notch.
Contact us to schedule a consultation and let us help you start feeling better today.