Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion also know as a ACDF is a surgical procedure performed to remove chronic pain in the neck and back. An ACDF is an operation where a surgeon take out a damaged or herniated disc. After the surgeon removed the disc they fuse the bone together.
Discectomy means “cutting out the disc.” A discectomy can be performed anywhere along the spine from the neck (cervical) to the low back (lumbar). The surgeon reaches the damaged disc from the front of the spine through the throat. By moving aside the neck muscles, trachea, and esophagus, the disc and bony vertebrae are exposed. Surgery from the front of the neck is safer and more accessible than from the back (posterior) because the disc can be reached without disturbing and possibly damaging the spinal cord, spinal nerves, and the strong neck muscles. Depending on your particular symptoms, one disc (single-level) or more (multi-level) may be removed.
After the disc is removed, the space between the vertebrae is empty. To prevent the vertebrae from collapsing and rubbing together, a spacer bone graft is inserted to fill the open disc space. The graft serves as a bridge between the two vertebrae to create a spinal fusion. The bone graft and vertebrae are fixed in place with metal plates and screws. Following surgery the body begins its healing process and new bone cells grow around the graft. After 3 to 6 months, the bone graft should join the two vertebrae and form one solid piece of bone. The instrumentation and fusion work together, similar to reinforced concrete.