If your neck pain isn’t responding well to physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and other conservative treatments, it may be time to consider an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion procedure. Having a solid understanding of what’s involved with ACDF can help determine if it’s the right solution for your neck pain.
ACDF often becomes necessary if your neck pain has been clearly linked to spinal cord or nerve root pressure caused by a herniated disc. As is the case with most spinal surgeries, image testing will be done to confirm the problem. ACDF may also be recommended if you’re experiencing:
• Pain that’s getting progressively worse • Corresponding muscle weakness • Numbness and tingling in the neck, shoulders, or arms
Part or all of the damaged disc is removed first when ACDF is performed. A plate or other type of implant may be used to provide support until a fusion forms. The empty space remaining when the disc is removed is replaced with a block of bone graft, which should result in a fusion between adjacent cervical vertebrae if successful bone growth occurs. While a posterior version of a cervical discectomy and fusion can be performed, the anterior procedure often results in:
• Less muscle stripping because of better access to the spine • Reduced complications and less incisional bleeding • Less postoperative pain and reduced dependence on painkillers
Most patients go home the same day of their procedure. Following ACDF, you’ll likely need to wear some type of collar to prevent excessive movement until your fusion forms. You may experience some muscle tightness or weakness, which should go away in time or with physical therapy. Recovery time averages 4-6 weeks.
A cervical discectomy without a fusion is sometimes recommended for younger patients. However, each situation is based on factors such as the specific location of the damaged disc, overall health of the patient, and whether or not there are multiple herniated discs pressing on nerve roots. If you do need this procedure, the good news is that ACDF is a fairly common surgery with a relatively high success rate.
To learn more about acdf or other options for neck pain relief, including minimally invasive neck surgery in Beverly Hills, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced spine surgeons at The Spine Institute Center. Call (310) 828-7757 today and request an in-person consultation.