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There are few things more disruptive to a normal life than a spinal disc compression or rupture. Fortunately, procedures to bring relief continue to evolve and are increasingly effective. ACDF, or Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion, is a surgery to remove a degenerative or herniated disc located in the neck. This surgical procedure can provide enormous, lasting relief, even for people who have suffered pain and lack of mobility in the neck area for many years. Contact Long Island Spine Specialists to find out about some of the best results ACDF Long Island has to offer.
ACDF surgery concerns the region between the seven cervical neck bones. The surgeon locates the damaged disc (or discs) by going in through the throat (this is the “anterior” side) and moving tissues and muscles aside to access the damaged disc and remove it. This is the “discectomy.” With the disc now removed, there is nothing to cushion the adjacent bony vertebrae from collapsing together. To solve this issue, a spacer bone graft is used to fill in the gap where the disc was removed. This is the “fusion.”
Bone grafts can come from several sources and each has distinct advantages.
Autograft bone: This is about a half inch thick piece of bone taken from the iliac crest of your hip at the same time the spinal surgery is performed. While it has a relatively high rate of successful fusion due to the live bone-growing cells and related proteins, you may experience some post-operative discomfort while your hip heals. Allograft bone: This is organ donor bone that lacks bone-growing cells or proteins but is combined with shavings of living bone taken from your spine during surgery. Using allograft bone eliminates the need to harvest bone from your hip – and avoids additional recovery time.
Substitute bone grafting material: Also packed with living bone tissue taken from your spine during surgery, This material is often produced from plastic, ceramic or special bioresorbable compounds specially designed for fusion with existing vertebrae.
Artificial disc replacement: This is an alternative to fusing bone and so is only partially ACDF. The artificial disc replacement is inserted into the affected joint space to replace the disc without much of a loss in the existing range of motion.
The bone graft is essentially a bridge between two vertebrae. The graft and the vertebrae are secured together with metal plates and screws. After the procedure, the body begins to naturally grow new bone around the graft. It can take between three and six months for the bone graft and the two vertebrae to grow together into a continuous bone.
After the procedure, there may be some range of motion loss, but this varies from patient to patient. Post-operative exercises can improve mobility but should be performed strictly according to your surgeons’ instructions, including when to begin during the healing process. Some of the variables that come into play:
Degree of neck mobility before the operation. Everyone has a different level of “neck fitness” – that combination of strength, mobility, and motor control you need for proper neck movement. How many levels were fused together? Every fusion bridge reduces flexibility to some degree. The more fusions, the less range in looking up and down or turning. Even with a somewhat reduced range of motion, the improvement most patients experience in terms of pain and discomfort in the head, neck, and shoulders is well worth it.
Generally, candidates have one or more of the following issues; however, our Long Island spinal fusion specialist surgeon can help you find an effective solution. Candidates may have the following symptoms:
It should be noted that candidates may also benefit from nonsurgical treatments. Depending upon the severity of the condition, many herniated discs can be healed in a few months with alternative methods. We believe it is in our patients’ interests to provide the least invasive treatments whenever possible. Our ACDF in Long Island may be the most effective treatment for patients with extensive disc damage who have suffered long term pain and discomfort and need long-lasting relief.
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