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Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF)

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is the most commonly used procedure for cervical radiculopathy. Discectomy refers to “cutting out the disc,” and can be performed anywhere along the spine, from the neck to the lower back. During ACDF, Dr. Subramanian places a graft to fuse together the bones above and below the disc. ACDF can be a good option for patients who have tried physical therapy or medication with no luck, and is often used for those with a bulging/herniated disc and those with degenerative disc disease. 

Procedure

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion is typically performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning most can return home the same day. 

During ACDF, Dr. Subramanian exposes the damaged disc from the front of the spine, through the throat. He moves the neck muscles, trachea and esophagus to get the best access to the vertebrae. This technique is the best way to approach ACDF, as Dr. Subramanian can access the damaged disc without having to maneuver the spinal cord and nerves. Depending on the severity of damage, Dr. Subramanian may remove one or more discs. 

Following disc removal, Dr. Subramanian inserts a spacer bone graft between the two vertebrae to prevent collapse and to fuse the two vertebrae together. He chooses from a autograft bone, allograft or bone graft substitute, depending on the patient and their individual surgical parameters. Then, he fixes the graft and bone in place with metal plates and screws. This technique helps the patient’s body heal and grow their own bone cells around the graft. Around three to six months post-op, the bone graft should completely join the two vertebrae to form a solid piece of bone. 

Recovery

Typically, patients return home  the same day as their procedure. Some patients may experience a loss of motion, depending on the extent of their surgery. Patients may return to normal activity after two to four weeks. Those who received stitches will be asked to return to Dr. Subramanian to have them removed. 

To learn more about Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion, contact Dr. Subramanian’s office at https://houstonspinedoc.com/appointments. 

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