Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion

Robert Louis, MD specializes in Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion in Orange County

Robert Louis, MD, your Orange County Neurosurgeon, performs Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) to remove herniated or degenerative disc in the neck area of the spine. The incision is made in the front of the spine through the throat area. After the damaged intervertebral disc is removed, a bone graft is inserted in the space to fuse together the bones above and below the disc space. This procedure is recommended if physical therapy or medications fail to decompress the spinal cord and nerve roots, stabilize the neck, and relieve painful symptoms. Disc disorders can cause spinal cord or nerve root impingement. Symptoms often include neck, shoulder or arm pain with or without numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms or hands. Patients typically go home the same day. Complete recovery may take up to four weeks.

Discectomy Procedure

Discectomy is the surgical removal of bulging or degenerative disc. It is performed anywhere along the spine from the neck (cervical) to the low back (lumbar). Dr. Louis reaches the damaged disc from the front (anterior) of the spine through the throat area, moving aside the neck muscles, trachea, and esophagus to expose the disc and vertebrae. Anterior approach is used to reach the disc reached without disturbing the spinal cord, spinal nerves and neck muscles. Depending on your symptoms and condition, one disc (single-level) or more (multi-level) may be removed.

Fusion Procedure

The space between the vertebrae is empty after the affected disc is removed. To prevent the vertebrae from collapsing and rubbing together, a bone graft or bone graft substitute is inserted to create a spinal fusion and fill the open disc space. The bone graft and vertebrae are fixed in place with metal plates and screws for reinforcement. Following surgery the body begins its natural healing process and new bone cells grow around the graft. After three to six months, the bone graft should join the two vertebrae and form one solid piece of bone. After fusion, patient may notice some loss in range of motion, which varies according to neck mobility before the fusion and the number of levels fused.

Types of Bone Graft

Autograft- Bone graph comes from the patient. Dr. Louis takes your own bone cells from the hip (iliac crest). This graft has a higher success rate of fusion because it has bone-growing cells and proteins. Harvesting a bone graft from your hip is done at the same time as the spine surgery. The harvested bone is about a half inch thick.

Allograft- The bone comes from a donor (cadaver) and is collected from people who have agreed to donate their organs after they die. This type of bone graft does not have bone-growing cells or proteins, yet it is readily available and eliminates the need to harvest bone from your hip. The center of the allograft filled with shavings of living bone tissue taken from your spine during surgery.

Bone Graft Substitute- This type of graft is made of plastic, ceramic, or bioabsorbable substitute materials. Also called cages, bo graft material is filled with shavings of living bone tissue taken from your spine during surgery.

For more information on ACDF, please call Dr. Louis at (949) 274-7336 or Contact Us.