Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, also known as ACDF, is a relatively common spinal surgical procedure that removes portions of a damaged or herniated disc in the neck or cervical region of the body. This procedure is done to help relieve pressure against the spinal cord and to help relieve pain, stiffness and limited range of motion or mobility.
A discectomy is a medical term that means removing or cutting out a disc. Discectomy procedures can be performed at any point along the spinal column, as it involves removal of cushioning discs found between the vertebrae, which help provide protection and cushioning that prevents bones from rubbing against each other.
The discectomy involves the removal of herniated disc tissues that press on nerves or other portions of spinal cord. This type of procedure is beneficial for individuals who have tried other options without relief and who experience and suffer from severe pain and difficulty walking, sitting, and other basic movements.
Individuals with back or neck pain or pain that doesn't respond to conventional medical treatment may benefit from a laparoscopic discectomy. Those diagnosed with herniated discs are also prime candidates for the procedure. Any procedures done to reduce pain and improve mobility in patients are beneficial in most cases, increasing mobility and range of motion and reducing pain.
Undergoing a spinal fusion might decrease pain in the back and legs, as well as reduce spine curvatures like scoliosis. Spinal fusion procedures are often recommended to those who suffer from severe back pain due to slippage of bones, causing misalignment.
The surgeon will typically access the cervical area of the spine from the front of the throat. In most cases, this is done through a laparoscopic approach, which requires smaller incisions, causes less tissue damage, and reduces the risk of complications. The vertebrae of the neck area are exposed through this process, which also ensures greater stability and protection for the spinal cord and nerves.
The surgeon accesses the disc that has been damaged and determines whether one or more discs need to be removed. This is called a single level or multilevel discectomy. The surgeon removes the damaged disc, which leaves an opening between two adjoining bones of the spinal column. The surgeon inserts a bone graft into this open space to help support the vertebra and prevent bony ends from rubbing against each other.
This part of the process is called spinal fusion, the bone graft acting as a bridge between the two vertebras. The bone graft or prosthesis is held in place with metal screws or metal plates. As the body heals, the bone will naturally grow around the graft, offering optimal strength and support within six months.
A discectomy procedure is generally performed by an orthopedic surgeon specializing in spine care or neurosurgeon as well as a vascular or general surgeon. Surgeons should be chosen according to their expertise and experience in related fields. Physicians and surgeons should be certified in their field, and show membership in national or regional boards or associations in his or her country of origin. Consumers are encouraged to get more than one opinion before engaging in any type of spinal surgery, as well as making sure that facilities, surgeons, and healthcare staff are accredited by international associations and organizations to ensure quality of equipment, technology, as well as quality of care by medical staff.
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