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Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
MEDICAL ANIMATION TRANSCRIPT: 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. 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 a plastic spacer filled with synthetic bone graft, or bone graft may be taken from another donor before your procedure. 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.