Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion (ACDF)

ACDF is an operation to relieve pressure on nerve roots and the spinal cord caused by a herniated disc or bone spur in the neck. A herniated disc is a condition in which the soft centre of the disc bulges out through the damaged outer ring. Herniated discs or bone spurs on nerve roots, ligaments or the spinal cord can cause pain in the neck and arms, numbness, weakness, tingling and loss of sensation in the arms, forearms or fingers, and lack of coordination. By reducing the pressure on the nerve, ACDF can relieve pain and symptoms.


The ACDF procedure is performed under general anaesthesia. The cervical spine is accessed through a small incision in the front of the neck. The surgeon removes part of the disc, and any bony material that is compressing the nerves and producing pain. Instrumentation in the form of plates, cages and screws are used to provide support and stability to the vertebrae and help to maintain normal disc height.


Your neck will most likely feel stiff or sore and you may find it hard to sit still for long periods. It might be difficult to lift and bend without straining your neck and back and causing pain. Pain medication will usually be prescribed.

Recovery differs between patients and surgeries.  As a general guide the following are consistent with all cervical surgeries:

  • Three to five days in hospital
  • No heavy lifting for the first few weeks or so (and graduated lifting restrictions thereafter)
  • Some time off work in order to recover
  • You may need to return to work on restricted duties for a period of time
  • You may not be able to drive for 4 to 6 weeks
  • No swimming for 4 to 6 weeks
  • Physiotherapy
  • Pain medication
  • Rehabilitation depending on the surgery


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