Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is a surgical procedure that is performed to relieve the persistent pain and symptoms associated with a herniated disc or disc degeneration in the cervical spine or neck. An incision is made in the anterior (front) of the neck and the affected disc that is causing pain and discomfort is fully removed. 

Because the entire disc is generally removed during this procedure, a bone graft is inserted in its place. A titanium plate is then attached with screws to stabilize this level to allow the bone graft to fuse to the adjacent vertebrae to maintain stability.

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How the surgery works

You will be under general anesthesia while the procedure is performed so you will not feel any pain or discomfort as the surgery is carried out. Because the surgeon will be accessing the herniated disc through the front of your neck, you will be placed on your back on a standard operating table. The surgical area will be cleaned and sterilized and an incision about 3-4 centimetres in size will be made slightly off the midline of your neck in one of its creases. Your surgeon will then carefully divide the muscle and tissue located below the incision. Once the spine is exposed, an X-ray is taken to confirm the correct spinal level. Your surgeon will then remove the entire disc. This will alleviate the compression that was being exerted on your spinal cord and nerve roots. Any additional lesions such as bone spurs will also be removed for a full decompression. An appropriately sized bone graft is selected and carefully tapped into the void where the disc previously resided. Once the bone graft is in place, a titanium plate is attached with screws to each of the adjacent vertebrae which will provide stability and promote better healing. Another X-ray will then be taken to confirm that everything has been inserted and affixed properly. 

Once the procedure is complete, the surgical area will be cleaned and the muscles and tissues that were parted will be sutured back together. The incision is closed with dissolvable sutures and surgical tape (Steri-strips) will be placed. The incision will be covered with a small dressing. 

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery typically takes between 2-3 hours to be completed.

Postoperative care

Following the procedure, you will be discharged from the surgical centre the same day or the following morning. You will be provided with a set of postoperative instructions. For the first 2 to 4 weeks you are restricted from twisting or bending your neck. As your neck muscles regain their strength and your pain subsides, you will be able to perform these motions once the initial restriction period has passed. You are also restricted from lifting any objects over 5 lbs. for the first 2 to 4 weeks following your surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most patients can return to reduced work activity 2 to 3 weeks after their surgery so long as their pain levels from the procedure are subsiding. As long as everything is progressing smoothly, you may then return to full work or recreational activities as early as 6 to 8 weeks after the procedure.

In general, the results from anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery in addressing chronic pain caused by a cervical herniated disc are classified as excellent. Studies have shown that 88-97 per cent of those who undergo the procedure report their results as either good or excellent.

While the titanium plate reduces the prolonged need of a neck brace thanks to its stabilizing abilities, some patients may have to wear a neck brace for the first few weeks following their surgery depending on their bone quality. The neck brace aids the healing process by keeping your neck in a stiff position and also helps reduce pain by relieving your neck from excess stress.

Receive the care you need right away

Horizon Surgical can expedite your minimally invasive spine surgery to be done in a timely fashion. From beginning to end, you can typically receive your minimally invasive spine surgery within a couple months. With our reduced recovery times, you’ll be able to get back to living your life and doing what you love most right away.

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