Practice Blog

Everything You Need to Know About ACDF Surgery

June 15, 2022

Did you know spinal pain is actually very common? Back pain alone is a leading cause of disability around the globe, affecting around 540 million people at a time.

Spinal issues in the neck are another common concern for American adults. Over 60% of people aged 40 and over will experience neck-spinal issues, according to current medical research.

Some of these issues can have severe negative impacts on your day-to-day living. Fortunately, there are many surgeries to help you recover your quality of life.

ACDF is a surgery for people with spinal disc problems in their neck. Our guide goes over all the information you need to know about this procedure, including the before and after.

What is ACDF Surgery?

ACDF stands for Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion. This term might seem complicated and confusing at first glance. To break it down:

  • Anterior: Front or near the front
  • Cervical: Relating to the neck
  • Discectomy: Disc removal
  • Fusion: Joining together separate parts to make a whole

In simplest terms, ACDF surgery removes damaged spinal discs in the neck. It then uses a bone graft and fusion process to close the resulting gap.

Why Choose ACDF Surgery?

ACDF surgery can help people with herniated or degenerative discs. Herniated refers to a disc that is slipping, bulging, or rupturing out of its exterior casing. Degenerative refers to a disc that is worn, torn, or injured over time.

These discs can cause long-term issues with:

  • Persistent and chronic pain
  • Decreased mobility
  • Decreased flexibility
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Nerve “shocks”

A damaged cervical disc can even cause neck pain to travel into your shoulders and down your arms. ACDF surgery can relieve existing symptoms and prevent future issues like pinched nerves.

ACDF Procedure

ACDF is a major surgical procedure. However, the process itself is relatively straightforward:

  1. The surgeon accesses the damaged disc through the neck’s front.
  2. The damaged discs are removed.
  3. A bone graft is inserted as a replacement.
  4. The graft “fuses” back together with neck vertebrae.

ACDF is minimally invasive as possible to prevent damage to the delicate tissues and muscles in your neck. In most cases, you’ll return home the same day as the procedure.

You will still have important recovery times and limitations to observe. However, the recovery process is much less intense compared to other surgeries, like open-heart surgery.

ACDF Recovery

Like any surgical recovery, downtime depends on many different factors besides the surgery itself. The patient’s age, health, and willingness to follow recovery recommendations can slow down or speed recovery times more than usual.

You may receive a small scar from ACDF surgery. The surgical incision is generally around 1 or 2 inches long. Proper incision care and anti-scarring treatments can reduce or eliminate any noticeable scarring, however.

There’s no current research that shows severe impacts on life expectancy after ACDF surgery. Like all surgeries, there are risks from undergoing anesthesia before the surgery, and unexpected medical complications after the surgery.

Patients must carefully observe their surgeon’s recovery instructions to reduce potential complications. They should also keep a close watch for warning signs, such as high fevers and swelling.

In some cases, you may experience issues like mucus in the throat after ACDF surgery. Throat issues are common with this type of surgery, and are only serious if they severely impact your breathing or swallowing.

Don’t Suffer From Spinal Pain- Get the Care and Support You Need Today

ACDF surgery can help you eliminate chronic pain and other damaged disc symptoms. It requires careful medical procedures and aftercare like all major surgeries. However, its risks and recovery are relatively light compared to the long-term benefits.

If you’re considering ACDF surgery, you need the best in expert medical care. Connect with us to learn more!

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