Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion is a surgical procedure recommended typically for patients with neck pain and/or arm pain, numbness/tingling, or weakness. The goals of surgery may differ depending on the patient but may include stabilizing the cervical spine, taking pressure off of the spinal cord and/or nerves, and improving neck posture. The surgery is performed through a small incision in the front of the neck, off to the side. The cervical disc(s), herniations, and/or bone spurs are removed, and an implant is put in place of the disc, along with bone graft/fusion material. A plate and screws are placed on the front of the spine to hold the implants in place while the fusion heals. For this surgery, rarely patients also require a surgery in the back of the neck, called a posterior cervical fusion, and this would be performed separately during the same hospitalization, usually a day apart.
If all depends on how many levels are fused. Most patients having a 1-2 level fusion do not feel a significant difference in neck range of motion once they are healed and have gone through physical therapy after surgery.
Patients are up walking the same day after surgery. Most patients are on minimal medications for pain after surgery. Physical therapy starts soon after surgery.
Most patients may wear a soft collar for comfort after surgery. Most of the time neck collars are not mandatory as long patients follow their surgical restrictions after surgery. Harder collars are usually not expected unless there are other factors or a more complex neck surgery.
We advise most of our patients to start off with liquids and softer foods after surgery. Once the inflammation from surgery improves, patients are able to eat whatever they would like after surgery.
Reviewed by: Dr. Christopher Good, MD, FACS.