In disc herniation, the nucleus pulposus (the jelly-like center of the disc) bulges out through the annulus (the tough outer layer) and presses on the spinal cord or nerve root next to it. The pinched nerve becomes inflamed and causes significant pain. Disc degeneration (cervical spondylosis) can also cause small tears in the annulus and subsequent inflammation of the nerve root.
The procedure involves making a small incision in the front (anterior) of the neck (cervical), removing the degenerated or herniated disc (discectomy), and finally stabilizing the upper and lower vertebrae by fusing them together (fusion). Bone graft is inserted into the empty space after removing the disc, and a small metal plate and screws are used to hold the vertebral bodies together while they fuse. The incision is typically made along the patient’s natural skin crease, resulting in a cosmetically pleasing look when healed.
ACDF is a highly effective procedure when non-operative treatments have failed to provide meaningful relief of symptoms or when there is worsening neurologic function. Please consult with Dr. Cho to determine whether ACDF is the right procedure for you.