Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion, or ACDF, is preformed to reduce or eliminate chronic pain in the neck or arm caused by a disc problem. During this procedure, a degenerative or herniated disc will be removed from the neck and the vertebrae will be fused together. As this procedure is done anteriorly, your surgeon will access the disc through the front of the neck.
In all cases, once the disc is removed your surgeon will use a plate and screws to attach the bones.
Typically, patients are considered good surgical candidates if they:
- Show signs of disc disease on imaging scans
- Have pain, weakness, or tingling in one or both hands or arms
- Have tried other nonsurgical approaches but have not improved
A one-level ACDF can be done as an outpatient procedure, meaning you will go home the same day of your surgery. A two-level or greater ACDF may require an overnight hospital stay. You will be placed under general anesthesia during the procedure. You may experience some mild pain post-operatively, however it should be easily managed with medication.
Recovery may take several weeks, and you may be required to wear a hard collar to aid with neck stabilization. You should avoid strenuous activity for 6 weeks after your surgery. You’ll likely be able to drive 1-2 weeks after your procedure.
After surgery, you may be recommended to a physical therapist to reduce pain and restore mobility. Exercise has been shown to aid recovery, however you should obtain permission from your surgeon before starting or resuming an exercise regimen.