Procedure: Anterior Cervical Discectomy


What is a Anterior Cervical Discectomy?

Anterior cervical discectomy is an operation where the cervical spine is reached through a small incision in the front of your neck. After the soft tissues of the neck are separated, the intervertebral disc (the pillow-like cushions in between your vertebrae) and bone spurs are removed (in Latin "ectomy" means removal in this case, of the disc). When symptoms are coming from the disc, it is hoped that this stops the symptoms. The space left between the vertebrae is usually filled with a bone graft and the vertebrae above and below the disc are then held in place with metal hardware. In time the vertebrae should fuse, or join together. This procedure is often referred to as ACDF (Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion).

Why is the procedure performed?

ACDF is a procedure used to treat neck problems associated with cervical disc disease such as:

  • cervical radiculopathy
  • disc herniations
  • fractures
  • spinal instability

The cervical nerve roots innervate the back of the head and neck as well as the arms and hands. If they are affected, the patient could have burning, tingling, numbness, and pain in these areas. Sometimes headaches result from cervical degenerative disc problems. Correcting the vertebrae widens the opening of the neural foramina, taking pressure off the spinal nerves that pass through them. Once the vertebrae are fused, no movement occurs between the bones and the neural foramina is maintained helping to relieve pain. It also prevents additional wear and tear on the structures inside the section that was fused.

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