Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) is a procedure performed to alleviate the pressure on the cervical spinal nerves as a result of cervical disc herniations or other degenerative conditions. When an intervertebral disc becomes herniated the gelatinous disc nucleus material (nucleus pulpous) is forced out from the disc. This herniated disc material then enters the spinal canal where it begins to press against the spinal cord or spinal nerves. This often causes pain both in the area of the herniation as well as pain in the neck, shoulders, arms or fingers. Removing the disc and any bone spurs will alleviate the pressure on the nerves or spinal cord, which relieves the pain.
Minimally Invasive Approach
In this procedure, a small incision is made in the neck, depending upon the location of the disc. Using a muscle-sparing technique, small surgical instruments and a surgical camera are slipped between the muscle fibers and onto the offending spinal disc(s). Specialized instruments are used to remove the herniated disc or bone spurs entirely and the surgeon is able to visualize the spine real-time using a fluoroscope. After disc material is removed, a bone graft is placed in the empty disc space. Over time, this bone graft will knit together with the vertebrae above and below to form one larger and more stable vertebra.
A small stabilization plate and surgical screws are also placed between the vertebrae to provide stability to the spine as well as ensure the bone graft maintains its proper position. As a result of these Minimally Invasive techniques the chances of reduced mobility is the cervical spine is diminished and the cervical spine will continue to flex and extend freely after this procedure.