Why Is It Performed?

The Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) is a surgical procedure that aims to alleviate symptoms caused by nerve compression by removing herniated discs and degenerative structures. The cervical vertebrae are then stabilised through a fusion procedure. This method is used to relieve pressure on the nerve root and/or spinal cord.

How Is It Performed?

The anterior cervical discectomy and fusion procedure is typically performed under general anaesthesia. The surgeon makes an incision of approximately 3 cm in length and approaches the degenerated disc from the front of the spine, through the space between the neck muscles. The disc material is then removed, which relieves pressure on the pinched nerve root and subsequently alleviates pain. To promote the growth of new bone, a bone graft is inserted into the disc space and acts as a bridge. The incision is then closed, typically leaving only a small scar. In some cases, the surgeon may insert screws to stabilise the spine while the treated area heals and fusion occurs.

Advantages of Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion:

  • There is little to no pain from surgery, as there is no muscle damage during the procedure.
  • Fast recovery time
  • Considered the gold standard procedure for cervical vertebrae diseases
  • More cost-effective compared to artificial cervical disc replacement surgery

Risks and Complications

It is rare for neck surgery to result in complications, and they are typically minor. Nevertheless, as with any surgery involving the spine, there are potential risks, which include:

  • Degeneration of adjacent vertebrae due to increased stress and load caused by fusion of the spine segment
  • Difficulty swallowing and temporary hoarseness
  • Failure of bone graft healing, resulting in lack of fusion
  • General surgical complications, such as bleeding, infection, blood clots, and reactions to anaesthesia

It is recommended that you discuss the potential risks and complications with your surgeon before undergoing ACDF surgery. However, following the surgeon's instructions before and after the neck surgery can help reduce the risks associated with any surgery.