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Anterior Cervical Discectomy With Fusion (ACDF)

Anterior Cervical Discectomy With Fusion (ACDF)

An anterior cervical discectomy with fusion (ACDF) is a procedure that involves replacing a vertebral disc in the neck with a bone graft. “Anterior” refers to the process of accessing the cervical vertebrae from the front of the neck. “Discectomy” is the removal of disc, which serves as a type of cushion between vertebrae. “Fusion” is the process of inserting a bone graft that will allow the vertebrae to fuse and heal.

Why Would I Need an Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion?

Removing a disc in the neck is usually done to relieve pressure in the cervical vertebrae, a process known as decompression. This spinal pressure can be caused by:

 Symptoms of cervical pressure include:

  • Pain in neck or upper extremities
  • Numbness or tingling in the neck or upper extremities
  • Muscle weakness in the upper extremities
An ACDF procedure is normally only recommended after non-surgical treatment has failed. There are several types of spinal surgeries available; whether or not an ACDF is the right surgery for you depends on a number of factors. Consult your spinal surgeon for the best treatment option for your specific condition.

What is an ACDF Like?

Bone Graft FusionThe typical steps of an ACDF:
  • Patient lies on back
  • A small incision is made to the side of the midline of the neck
  • Neck soft tissue (esophagus, trachea) and muscle are moved aside
  • The damaged disc material is removed
  • A bone graft, plate and screws are installed to allow fusion
  • The tissue is returned to its place and the incision is closed


Recovery is different for every patient and depends on a variety of factors. You will set up a recovery plan with your surgeon. Patients are typically up and walking the day after surgery. It will usually take 3-6 weeks of recovery before a patient can return to work. Most pre-surgery symptoms will be immediately relieved, while others may improve over time.

Risks and Complications

Any spinal surgery carries a risk of infection, blood loss, clots, nerve damage and risks associated with anesthesia. Risks vary between patients. Discuss your specific case with your spinal surgeon. To learn more about ACDFs or to schedule an appointment with a spinal surgeon, contact us today.