Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is an approach to fusion surgery where the spine is reached through the front of the neck. It’s a type of surgery, involving two procedures, that’s often appropriate for patients experiencing pain from pressure on the spinal cord or related nerve roots. Here’s a closer look at how to determine if this type of surgery is appropriate for you:
Nothing Else Helps
As with any other type of surgery involving the spine, doctors often insist patients try non-surgical remedies first. If the pain persists or gets worse, then ACDF surgery becomes an appropriate consideration.
You’re in Relatively Good Health Otherwise
Having conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure doesn’t automatically make ACDF inappropriate for you. However, ideal candidates for ACDF surgery should be in good shape physically, beyond what’s causing their cervical spine pain. Potential health issues that may cause a surgeon to hesitate recommending ACDF include:
- Heart disease
- Chronic high blood pressure
- Severe obesity
*Note: Older patients tend to have varying degrees of age-related disc degeneration that may make ACDF surgery too risky.
You Don’t Have Any Other Spine Issues
If you have back problems in other locations within the spine, your surgeon may prefer to do the traditional surgery or insist that you hold off on ACDF until any other issues, such as the need for fusion surgery within other areas of the spine, are corrected. Additionally, doctors look at the condition of supporting vertebrae. If there are issues with adjacent structures, including joints and muscles, ACDF is usually considered too risky.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
It’s important to be aware of both the benefits and the potential risks of the procedure so your doctor can help you make an informed decision.
Benefits of ACDF
- Less postoperative pain
- Easier access to the spine
- Faster healing time (compared to traditional fusion surgery directly from the back area)
ACDF (Potential) Risks
- Damage to nearby arteries
- Graft and plate complications
- Failure of fusion
Your doctor or surgeon will be able to answer any questions related to ACDF surgery and your specific case. If you would like to learn more about your options, call 310-828-7757 and request an in-person consultation with Dr. Hyun Bae, Medical Director of The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. Along with fusion surgeries, Dr. Bae specializes in motion-preserving spine surgeries, which can offer the same results as ACDF with faster recovery time and more spinal range of motion. See what your options are by reaching out to us today.