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Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF)

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) is a surgery used to treat herniated discs in the neck. What makes ACDF different from a traditional posterior discectomy is that the damaged disc is accessed through the throat rather than the back of the neck.

Accessing herniated cervical discs through the throat rather than the back of the neck allows the surgeon to work without disturbing the spinal cord, spinal nerves or the strong muscles of the neck.

What happens during ACDF?

You’ll be placed under general anesthesia for the procedure. Dr. Baig will make a small incision on one side of your throat and move the muscles, arteries, trachea and esophagus to the side. Using real-time X-ray (fluoroscopy), Dr. Baig will identify and remove the herniated disc and decompress the “pinched” spinal nerve that is causing your pain. The missing disc is replaced with a bone graft or bioplastic cage filled with bone material, and hardware is used to fuse the vertebrae together. In some cases, more than one damaged disc will need to be removed.

Dr. Baig may choose to insert an artificial disc in place of fusion to preserve range of motion in the neck.


The overwhelming majority of herniated discs in the neck will heal without the need for surgery. However, in some cases disc degeneration in the neck is so severe and pain is so great that surgery is required. ACDF is Dr. Baig’s preferred surgical treatment for a number of reasons.

Benefits of ACDF include:
● Shorter surgery. ACDF surgery takes 1 to 3 hours as compared with posterior cervical discectomy fusion (PCDF), which takes 2 to 4 hours.
● Spinal cord and spinal nerves are undisturbed. Accessing damaged cervical discs from the front of the body means Dr. Baig will not have to disturb vulnerable spinal nerves or the spinal cord itself.
● Fewer complications. Studies comparing PCDF and ACDF have shown ACDF to have fewer complications and to be safer overall for the patient.
● Shorter hospital stay. Many ACDF patients are able to go home the same day or next day after surgery as compared with PCDF patients, who require 3 to 5 days in hospital post-surgery.

Am I a candidate for ACDF?

If you have neck and arm pain due to disc degeneration in your cervical spine and your symptoms have not improved with nonsurgical treatment, ACDF may be an option for you. As always, Dr. Baig will not perform any form of spine surgery unless he is certain it will help you. A consultation with Dr. Baig is the best way to find an effective treatment plan for your pain and related symptoms.