Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion

Neck surgery to relieve pressure on the spinal cord using an anterior approach

A worn disc is removed from the neck to relieve nerve root pressure and pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling

About cervical discectomy and fusion

The spine is a complex structure of discs, bones and joints. Over time, this structure can wear down and become unstable. This destabilisation can lead to pain in the back of your neck or down your arms.

It can also cause other problems, like loss of bladder control or numbness in your legs. Surgery may be necessary to stop the symptoms getting worse.

Need to know

  • What happens during a cervical discectomy? icon plus

    This is a surgical procedure that combines a discectomy and insertion of a cage or piece of bone  into the empty space left behind.  The cage or piece of bone fuses with the vertebrae over time. Bone taken from the hip or artificial bone in the cage itself can be used to help fusion occur.

    If you suffer from pain, weakness or numbness in your neck, arms and legs, a spinal disc may be pressing on spinal nerve roots. Your consultant may recommend a cervical discectomy to remove the problem disc from your neck, relieving the pressure on your spinal nerve root.
  • How to prepare for surgery icon plus

    Your consultant will explain the procedure and answer any questions you might have. Because general anaesthetic is used during the procedure, you may need to fast for several hours before the operation.

    Your consultant will tell you how long you should avoid eating and drinking. Like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved. Your consultant will explain these to you.
  • After a cervical discectomy icon plus

    After your surgery, you may need to wear a semi-rigid cervical collar when sitting and moving. The surgical wound is closed with sutures and clean dressings, which remain in place for a few days. At this point, the wound can be left uncovered.

    You won't be able to drive for two weeks after your operation, as you'll have limited mobility and won't be able to view mirrors properly.
  • How effective is a cervical disectomy? icon plus

    Anterior Cervical discectomy and fusion is successful in relieving arm pain in the majority of cases (90-100%). However arm numbness or weakness may continue for months afterwards.

    Neck pain is also relieved but ACDF is more effective in treating arm pain.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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