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An Overview of Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF)

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) is an invasive surgery involving removal of a damaged disc in the cervical (neck) area, and replacing it with a bone graft. ACDF has been performed since the mid-20th century. The procedure has demonstrated effectiveness in relieving pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in the neck, shoulders, arms, or hands caused by a damaged disc, bone spurs, cervical degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis.

ACDF surgery starts with the surgeon creating a one to two-inch horizontal opening in the front right or left side of the neck. The neck muscle directly under the skin is then cut along the same line. Next, the space between two main neck muscles is entered, and the thin layer of tissue is moved, freeing up the disc space. The surgeon finds the disc area in need of repair and removes the disc by slicing the protective outer fibers and removing all the internal matter. The spinal canal is then carefully accessed to clean out any remaining debris. The cartilaginous ends of the upper and lower vertebrae are also removed, along with partial bony sections that create the disc boundary. A bone graft is then introduced into the vacant disc space. The new bone will grow to fully fill the gap and bond with the upper and lower vertebrae. Once entirely healed, the area will become one solid, immovable section. A small metal plate is also attached to the front of the spine, with screws inserted into the upper and lower vertebrae to give stability.


Some advantages of ACDF surgery are:

  • The surgeon has direct access to the disc
  • Less post-op pain with a frontal approach
  • Procedure can be performed at one or more levels


Individuals at higher risk for having ACDF surgery include:

  • Smokers
  • Diabetics
  • Obese individuals
  • Genetic issues


If you have been experiencing worsening pain and would like to find out if you may be a candidate for ACDF, please contact us at either our New Braunfels or Seguin offices.

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