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Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion

When you have a problem with one of the discs located in the neck, usually referred to as the cervical area, a number of treatment options may be considered. In some cases, such as if you have a herniated disc, a type of surgery that is known as anterior cervical discectomy fusion may be an option. As the name would suggest, this operation takes place from the front, involves the cervical area and includes both a discectomy and a fusion of the vertebrae. It may be considered if there is an injury to the disc or the vertebrae or if there is some type of curvature to the spine, such as scoliosis

When this type of surgery is performed, it is done through a small incision that is located near the collar line at the neck. Access to the vertebrae is possible when the esophagus and windpipe are moved out of the way. Since the problem is accessed from the anterior, the disc and the vertebrae are clearly available to the doctor and they can perform the surgery by removing bone spurs or the discs that may be a problem.

Part of the discectomy is going to involve putting something in the area where the disc was removed. This may be a piece of bone your own hip or it could involve a piece of bone from a bone bank. Titanium plating is used to prevent the plug from moving out of position.


After this part of the surgery has been completed, the doctor will move the windpipe and trachea back into position and will close the incision. One of the problems that can occur with this type of surgery is for excessive fluid to build up in the area, so your doctor may want you to have a small tube located in the area for drainage. There may be some slight scarring but it is not likely to be noticeable after several months have passed. Your doctor will discuss the possibility of you wearing a collar to protect the area.

One of the benefits of an anterior cervical discectomy fusion is its high rate of success. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that nine out of 10 surgeries are successful and although there can be some issues associated with the surgery, they are relatively rare. The problems that may take place after the surgery can include pain and numbness, incontinence, instability of the spine, injury to blood vessels, spinal fluid leakage, impaired muscle function and continued pain.

After your surgery, you will be given some suggestions as to how to recover more quickly. Included in those suggestions will likely be that you should walk as much as possible and should provide support for your lower back with a cushion when seated. It is also important to be cautious about your posture, because poor posture can cause difficulties. Your doctor will discuss additional suggestions for recovery with you.