Cervical fusion is a common surgical option to treat damaged discs in the neck. During the operation, the surgeon first removes the degenerated disc. Also known as an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, this technique relieves pressure on the nerve roots and/or the spinal cord.
The surgeon then inserts a spacer and permanently fixes the adjacent vertebrae to one another with a cervical plate. This stabilisation eliminates movement and often relieves pain and other symptoms. However, it reduces flexibility and range of motion.
There are potential risks associated with the use of these devices, some of which include: disassembly, bending, and/or breakage of any or all of the components; pressure on the skin from the device, which could cause skin penetration, irritation, and/or pain; tissue or nerve damage; and scar formation. It is important to discuss the possible risks, complications, warnings, adverse events, and other important medical information with a doctor.
Often the surgeon accesses the cervical spine during surgery from the front (anterior) of the neck. This approach is termed an anterior cervical fusion or an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).
After making a small incision, the surgeon moves soft tissue such as fat and muscle to the side, and removes the disc, any bone spurs, and soft tissue to relieve pressure on compressed nerves. The surgeon then inserts a spacer to keep the adjacent vertebrae from collapsing on top of one another. The spacer may be synthetic or constructed with bone taken from another area of your body. A plate and some screws hold the spacer in place and stabilise the area.
A person that has an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), should expect to spend one day in the hospital. After discharge, the doctor will likely recommend a post-operative recovery and exercise plan.