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Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion


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If you have a condition in your neck that puts pressure on your spinal cord or spinal nerves,

your doctor may recommend an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.

The spine in your neck, also called the cervical spine, has seven separate bones called vertebrae.

The front of each vertebra is called the vertebral body, except for the first vertebra.

Between most vertebrae is a soft cushion, called an intervertebral disc.

The back part of each vertebra has a curved section, called the vertebral arch.

Except for the first vertebra, each vertebral arch has a bony projection called the spinous process.

On each side of the spinous process is a flat piece of bone called a lamina.

The vertebral arch of the vertebra surrounds and protects your spinal cord,

a column of nervous tissue connecting your brain to other nerves in your body.

Your spinal cord passes through an enclosed space, called the vertebral canal, which is formed by the vertebral arches of your vertebrae.

Over time, your cervical spine may develop problems

such as a bulging disc, a herniated, or ruptured, disc, or bony growths on your vertebrae, called bone spurs.

These changes can narrow your vertebral canal and put pressure on your spinal cord or the nerves that branch off of it.

The pressure can cause neck pain and stiffness, or pain, numbness, and weakness in your arms or hands.

Before your procedure, an intravenous line, or IV, will be started.

You may be given antibiotics through the IV to decrease your chance of infection.

You will be given general anesthesia to make you unconscious and pain-free during the procedure.

A breathing tube will be inserted through your mouth and down your throat to help you breathe during the operation.

Your surgeon will make an incision on your neck.

The front of your cervical spine containing the damaged disc will be exposed.

Your surgeon will remove the entire damaged disc.

This helps relieve the pressure on your spinal cord and nerve roots.

Then, your surgeon will remove any bone spurs.

The vertebral bodies above and below the removed disc will be trimmed to allow placement of a bone graft.

Your surgeon may use bone graft taken from your hip bone.

Sometimes, bone graft may be taken from another donor before your procedure, or it may be a man-made bone graft substitute.

The bone graft will be placed between the two prepared vertebrae, allowing them to fuse together.

Your surgeon may attach a metal plate with screws to keep your spine stable while your bone graft assists in fusing the vertebrae together.

Your skin incision will be closed with skin glue or skin closure tape.

Your neck may be placed in a collar to keep it still while your vertebrae fuse.

After your procedure, your breathing tube will be removed and you will be taken to the recovery area for monitoring.

You’ll be given pain medication as needed.

You may be released from the hospital the same day or within one to two days after your procedure.

You may need to wear your neck collar for several weeks while your vertebrae fuse together.