Spinal issues, such as bone spurs, herniated discs and spinal stenosis, can often be best treated through a procedure known as ACDF: anterior cervical decompression and fusion. Of course, like any major surgery, it should be considered only if non-operative approaches have already been tried without success.
During this procedure, physicians for anterior cervical fusion
make an incision and approach the spine from the front of the body. After cleaning up the arthritic or injured area, a bone graft is added to the segment so that the vertebrae will naturally “fuse” together during the recovery process. This facilitates stability and ensures the future health of the spine in that area.
If you or someone you love is considering the possibility of spinal decompression and fusion surgery, here are some frequently asked by our patients here at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute.
How will I know if spinal decompression and fusion is the best treatment approach for my case?
If you have not responded positively to other non-operative methods of care and you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, your doctor may recommend ACDF as the best treatment approach
Numbness and tingling in your arms
Nerve root pressure
Spinal instability and weakness
Problems with balance and manual dexterity
Won’t fusing my spine together leave me less mobile?
No, this aspect of the procedure is often the most misunderstood, so let’s look at the facts. First, physicians for anterior cervical fusion will tell you that the most important aspect of the procedure is the decompression - or the removal of the problem area to eliminate pressure on the nerves and clean up the damaged spinal area. After that, the bone graft that is added simply facilitates a natural fusion of that segment of the spinal column during the patient’s recovery process.
This “fusing” will strengthen and stabilize the spine, which further contributes to reducing pain and improving function.
Can this procedure only be done from the anterior side of the body?
No. In fact, spinal fusion is regularly performed both anteriorly (from the front) and posteriorly (from behind). The anterior approach is chosen when the compressive pathology originates from the front of the spinal column.
In some cases, the best view and access to the problem area is from the anterior side, but physicians for anterior cervical fusion are also trained in performing the decompression and fusion procedure from the posterior side of the body as well.