Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
The Procedure: What it is; How it Works
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is a commonly performed surgery for both cervical stenosis and cervical disc disease. The patient is positioned on their back on the operating room table with the neck kept in its usual position.
Anterior cervical discectomy is also effective in removing arthritic bone spurs pressing on a nerve and causing arm and hand pain.
An incision is made on either the right or left side of the neck according to the surgeon’s preference.
Often, this incision may be made in a preexisting neck crease to minimize its visibility after surgery. The trachea and esophagus are moved towards to middle, and the carotid artery and jugular vein are moved toward the side. Both are then protected with metal retractors, which can occasionally cause a sore throat or hoarseness for a short time after surgery.
At this point, the operating microscope is used for better vision throughout the remainder of the surgery. The disc is then removed with special instruments, and a drill is then used to remove many of the bone spurs and protrusions. Other instruments are used to widen the opening for the nerve roots, as well as remove any remaining bone spurs.
The height of the disc space is then measured, and a piece of cadaveric bone is placed between the two vertebral bodies, which will eventually form a secure fusion. Often, a titanium plate may be used to secure the bone plug and provide some extra stability until the cadaveric bone causes a fusion.
The cadaveric bone is tested and sterilized before use, but in some instances, patients have requested that their own bone be used. If this is the case, the bone is usually taken from the hip. Their are also some instances in which it may be preferable to use the patients own bone.
The incision is then closed with stitches. There may be an option for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery. Depending on the surgeon, the patient may be asked to wear a neck collar for several weeks following surgery. Patients can generally resume normal activity in about four weeks after surgery, but this should be discussed with a physician before starting.
To learn more about what to expect if you are in the hospital for one of these surgeries, click here.
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