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Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF)


What is ACDF?

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is a type of surgery for the treatment of symptoms from a herniated disc in the neck. During the procedure, the damaged disc is removed (discectomy) and the spine is stabilized using a bone or artificial graft, or a metal or ceramic plate.

The cervical spine carries the weight of your head and allows you to move your neck. Over time, the stress on the neck leads to wear and tear. Everyone experiences some spinal degeneration with aging, but not all will have neck pain. In most cases, neck pain can be treated using nonsurgical treatments, but for some, cervical disc surgery is the best option.

ACDF surgery may be recommended for those whose neck pain is severe and doesn’t resolve with conservative treatment, or for those who experience weakness in the arm that interferes with their ability to function.

Back Pain Centers of America can help match you with board-certified specialists who can perform minimally invasive ACDF surgeries and other procedures. With our help, more than 30,000 people have found the road of recovery from back and neck pain. If your symptoms persist despite previous treatments, call us today at [sc name=”patient_phone_number_dash”] to learn more about how we can help you.

Anterior cervical discectomy fusion helps woman regain mobility


There are several benefits to undergoing ACDF, beginning with relief from pain and other symptoms caused by a slipped or herniated disc. ACDF surgery can help you regain function so that you can get back to your regular activities without pain and muscle weakness. Minimally invasive ACDF also offers patients several benefits over traditional open spine surgery, such as a faster recovery and minimal scarring. This is because minimally invasive ACDF is performed through a tiny incision without disrupting the muscle and other tissues. In most cases, the procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis.

Conditions and Symptoms Treated

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is used to treat herniated cervical discs, but can also be used to treat degenerative disc disease, bone spurs and cervical spine stenosis. The symptoms treated by ACDF include:

  • Neck pain
  • Pain that radiates to the shoulders, arm and hand
  • Numbness and tingling in the arm and hand
  • Weakness in the arm and hand
  • Headache
  • Stiffness and problems turning your head


You will be given preparation instructions before your cervical spine surgery. As part of your preparation, you may be asked to do the following (consult your doctor before doing anything):

  • Stop smoking – Smoking has been linked to neck pain and spinal degeneration and is known to slow recovery. You may be advised to stop smoking for a period before your surgery and during recovery.
  • Stop taking certain medications – You will be asked to stop taking any medications and supplements that increase the risk of bleeding. You will be told by your doctor which of your medications to stop taking and for how long.
  • Fast for 6 to 12 hours – You are not able to eat or drink for a certain amount of time before surgery. You will be told exactly how long you need to fast before your cervical fusion.
  • Arrange a ride – Due to anesthesia medication, you will likely not be able to drive after surgery and will need to arrange to have someone drive you home.

Failure to follow preparation instructions may result in the postponement of your ACDF procedure.

The Procedure

ACDF is performed through a tiny incision measuring approximately an inch in the front (anterior) of the neck. A special type of X-ray called fluoroscopy allows the surgeon to see the portion of the spine being worked on, guiding him/her during the procedure. The spine is accessed by moving aside the muscles in the neck to remove the damaged disc and fuse the vertebrae together using a bone or ceramic graft, or a ceramic or titanium plate. Once the procedure is completed, the incision is closed and you are sent to a recovery room to be monitored for a few hours.



After your ACDF, you may be given a brace to wear during sleep to help support your neck and avoid certain movements. Pain from minimally invasive ACDF surgery can be managed easily using pain medication.

Part of your rehabilitation will likely involve physical therapy to help restore your function and improve flexibility.

You will be advised as to when you can return to work and get back to certain activities. Following your recovery instructions will help you make a faster recovery after ACDF.

Don’t delay relief. If you’re ready to stop living with pain, give us a call at [sc name=”patient_phone_number_dash”] today so we can help you get the treatment you need. The call is simple, easy, and could be the most important call you ever make.

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