Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
For patients with cervical disc disease, a number of factors affect the decision as to whether a discectomy and fusion or a disc replacement will be the best treatment. Factors may include but are not limited to the patient’s overall health and physical condition, the extent and location of symptoms of the disc disease, and the overall health of surrounding vertebrae and the rest of the spine. Our providers evaluate each patient carefully and confer with the primary care physician to determine the best treatment.
In an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion, the surgeon accesses the cervical disc through a small incision usually on the right front (anterior) side of the neck, just above the collar bone. We like to place this incision in a natural skin fold as in most patients after they are healed, it doesn’t look like a scar. This technique is less invasive than cervical spine surgery techniques that enter from the back (posterior) side of the neck, and recovery time is shorter. Using X-ray to identify a path to the correct disc and a surgical microscopic magnified vision, the diseased disc is removed, and local bone, is harvested as well as bone marrow aspirate (BMA), placed in a fitted cage and precisely to fit it in the space in its place. Surgical screws are then used to fasten a metal plate over the two vertebrae to hold them in place so that the bones can grow together over the months following surgery. Actual operative times range from 1 hour for a single level to 2 hours for three level, thereby enabling a same day surgery and less chance for infection and associated risks from tissue damage found with longer procedures.