Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion

Anterior cervical discectomy with fusion is a surgical procedure that involves relieving nerve root compression: the pressure placed on nerve roots and/or the spinal cord by a herniated disc or
bone spurs in the neck.

Conditions Treated by an Anterior Cervical Discectomy

This treatment is typically used on a herniated (or bulging) disc in the cervical vertebrae. In this
situation, the nucleus pulposus has pushed through the annulus fibrosus. In some cases, bone spurs
have also formed.

An anterior cervical discectomy with spinal fusion is typically recommended only after more
conservative treatments (see the continuum of care), such as physical therapy, epidural steroid
injections, or minimally invasive laser spine surgery, have been considered insufficient in providing
the relief needed.

For any medical procedure, your spine specialist will consider a number of factors for your specific situation including your medical history, age, and lifestyle. He or she should thoroughly discuss alternatives, risks and benefits of this procedure with you.

How an Anterior Cervical Discectomy Is Performed

The surgeon creates a small incision near the front of the neck. Through this incision, he or she:

  • Removes all or part of the intervertebral disc to access the compressed neural structures
  • Removes the source of the compression (for example, the herniated disc) to relieve the pressure
  • Places a bone graft between the adjacent vertebrae
  • Might use instrumentation such as metal plates or pins to provide extra support and stability


Anterior Cervical Discectomy Recovery Time

A typical patient recovery timeline is:

Surgery day:

Up and walking in the hospital by the end of the day

3-6 weeks after procedure:

Return to work (depending on the type of work or activity level, and how well you are healing)

Your physician will map out a post-operative recovery plan for your specific situation. This plan will determine the amount of time that you will need to remain in the hospital after the procedure. It is important that you follow his or her instructions to maximize your healing and pain reduction
– which is the ultimate goal.

Anterior Cervical Discectomy Potential Risks or Complications

All treatment and outcome results vary based on each patient’s specific situation.

Potential risks associated with spine surgery include: infection, nerve damage, blood clots,
blood loss and bowel and bladder problems.

A potential risk associated with spinal fusion is: failure of the vertebral bone and graft to properly
fuse, a condition that may require additional surgery.
This is not a comprehensive list of potential risks or complications. Please discuss any procedure thoroughly with your physician to fully understand the potential risks, benefits and alternatives.