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Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion

What is an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion?

Anterior cervical discectomy with fusion is an operative procedure which involves relieving the compression on nerve roots and the spinal cord by a herniated disc or bone spurs in the neck.

In anterior cervical discectomy with fusion, the surgeon approaches the cervical spine through a small incision in the front of the neck and removes the entire disc or a part of the disc along with any structural material that is compressing the nerves and producing pain. Spinal fusion surgery implies placing a bone graft between the two affected vertebral bodies encouraging the bone growth between the vertebrae. The bone graft acts as a medium for binding the two vertebral bones and grows as a single vertebra which stabilizes the spine. It also helps to maintain the standard disc height.

 

Who needs this surgery?

A herniated disc is a condition in which the soft, gel-like center of the disc (nucleus pulposus) has pushed out through the disc’s tough, outer ring (annulus fibrosus). Bony outgrowths, also known as bone spurs or bone osteophytes, are formed due to calcification of spine joints. The pressure induced by a herniated disc or bone spur on nerve roots, ligaments or the spinal cord may cause pain in the neck and arms, numbness or weakness in the arms, forearms or fingers, and lack of coordination.

As most nerves to the body (e.g., arms, chest, abdomen, and legs) pass through the neck region from the brain, pressure on the spinal cord in the neck region (cervical spine) can be very problematic. Patients with these symptoms are candidates for anterior cervical discectomy procedure only after nonsurgical treatment methods fail. Cervical discectomy can reduce the pressure on the nerve roots leading to pain relief.

Before recommending surgery, your surgeon considers several factors such as your health condition, age, lifestyle, and anticipated level of activity following surgery. We recommend a thorough discussion with your surgeon regarding this treatment option before scheduling the surgery.

 

How is this procedure performed?

Your surgeon makes a small incision in the front side of the neck and locates the source of neural compression. Then, we remove the intervertebral disc that is compressing the nerve root. Afterward, we place a bone graft between the two vertebral bodies. In specific instances, metal plates or pins are used for providing enough support and stability, and to ease the fusion of the vertebrae.

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