As a leading name in the spine industry, Dr. Bae had the honor of being the lead investigator of a cutting-edge clinical trial testing one and two-level cervical disc replacement for global spine device company LDR. Using his extensive knowledge and experience with anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, Dr. Bae is working with renowned spine technology companies and pioneering innovative new ways to treat pain and other symptoms of degenerative disc disease at the cervical spine.
Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF), also referred to as anterior cervical decompression, is a surgery to remove a herniated or degenerative disc in the neck. The procedure is performed through the front of the neck to give the surgeon better access to the spine and to provide the patient with less post-operative pain.
ACDF begins with an incision of one or two inches. Then, the muscle under the skin is split in order to reach the degenerative disc. After the surgeon verifies the affected disc, it is removed and a bone graft is inserted to fill the open disc space. By fixing the graft in place with metal plates and screws, the bones above and below the disc space become fused, preventing the vertebrae from rubbing together and disc space collapse. During the natural healing process, new bone cells will grow around the graft and form one solid piece of bone, helping to alleviate pain, weakness, numbness and/or tingling caused by pressure on the spinal cord or nerve root. ACDF can be done on one or multiple levels of the cervical spine.
While each patient and ACDF surgery is unique and dependent on variable factors, patients typically go home the same day of surgery or after one night of observation. Recovery time is between four and six weeks, but it may take up to 18 months for the fusion to fully set up.
After ACDF, patients may notice some range of motion loss which varies according to neck mobility before surgery and the number of levels fused. Generally, the more levels fused, the higher chance for limitations in regards to turning and looking up and down.
There are risks associated with any surgery which can include bleeding, infection and damage to the nerve root. However, with ACDF, the most common post-operative problem is difficulty swallowing. This can last anywhere from two to five days. Other complications of this particular surgery include improper or failed bone graft healing causing persistent swallowing or speech disturbances and inadequate symptom relief. Because the frequency of complications varies between surgeons, it is of the utmost importance to work with a board-certified surgeon who has specialized training in spine care and has experience performing ACDF.
Not all individuals are candidates for ACDF, especially those who are younger and have a desire to remain active with as much neck and spinal range of motion as possible. For this reason, our advanced diagnostic and surgical team will take the time to consult with you, helping to determine whether ACDF is the right choice or if a motion-preserving, cervical artificial disc replacement is more appropriate. With the development of modern techniques and instrumentation, patients have access to more options for spine surgery than ever before.
To see if you are a candidate for ACDF or to learn your options for neck surgery, contact The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration at (310) 828-7757 and schedule an in-office consultation.