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ACDF stands for Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion. It is a surgical approach from the front of the neck to remove a slipped or ruptured disc, thus decompressing the spinal cord and nerves, followed by a fusion of the vertebrae to prevent future problems at that level.
ACDF is done when the vertebral bodies of the spine are out of alignment due to disc herniation, injury, or degeneration. A small incision is made in the front of the neck, which is less dangerous to the spinal cord than approaching from the back, to reach the damaged disc. The neck muscles are held to the side while the damaged disc is completely or partially removed. A spacer and bone graft are then placed in the disc space and metal plates are used to stabilize the spinal vertebrae. This creates a solid bone between the 2 adjoining vertebrae, eliminating any movement between the bones. After surgery, the mobility of the spine is limited as the 2 levels are fused into one. The goal of the surgery is to reduce or eliminate pain and alleviate spinal cord and nerve root compression.