When a cervical (upper) spinal disc is damaged to the point where a neurosurgeon recommends removal, an anterior cervical discectomy with fusion (or “ACDF surgery”) may be performed. Instead of approaching the spine from the back as one might expect, an anterior cervical discectomy involves removing the disc from the front of the neck. This orientation actually gives better access to the spine itself, and typically involves less pain for the patient during recovery.

An anterior cervical discectomy may be performed to relieve the following issues:

  • Cervical herniated (or “ruptured”) disc
  • Cervical degenerative disc disease
  • Cervical spinal stenosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bone spurs related to the previous two conditions

When the discectomy includes fusion, the vertebrae surrounding the offending disc will be fused together permanently with a bone graft to close up the gap where the disc was removed and prevent future issues and deformities. Most of the time, an anterior cervical discectomy will include this fusion step as part of the overall process.

The most common post-operative side effect of anterior cervical discectomy with fusion is difficulty swallowing. This condition is caused by the retraction of the esophagus during surgery, but typically lasts only a few days. If you have concerns about this side-effect or other risks associated with ACDF surgery, be sure to have an open conversation about them with your doctor. A qualified neurologist like Dr. Neece will be able to help you determine whether ACDF surgery is the best choice for you and your needs.

If you are suffering from any of the mentioned conditions and would like to discuss the possibility of undergoing an anterior cervical discectomy, make an appointment with our office. Dr. Neece and his expert staff will assist you in evaluating your issue and determining whether you are a good candidate for the procedure.