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Should I Get ACDF or Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery?

Burdine & Brown Sept. 23, 2020

During the course of our representation of many injured workers, we come across questions like this one, what type of cervical surgery will be helping one to recover in an opportune time and be able to go back to work in a relatively short time? Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a surgery to remove a herniated or degenerative disc in the neck. Cervical disk replacement surgery involves removing a diseased cervical disk and replacing it with an artificial disk. Before this procedure was available, the affected disk was removed and the vertebrae above and below were fused together to prevent motion.

When one feels neck pain it can be "funny" in the way of being weird. This can be a muscle strain and probably not a very serious medical condition. But if one feels numbness, tingling, weakness or straight-up agony in one of the arms, this could be a more serious neck problem that is actually causing radiculopathy, a radiating pain. When a person is experiencing this type of pain they would do almost anything to be able to get rid of it. When the pain is not going away, it is time to see a doctor. First treatment recommendations from an orthopedic surgeon will be a conservative type of treatment like physical therapy, activity modification and anti-inflammatory medications and sometimes injections. When the pain continues to plague one's neck area it is time to think of cervical surgery. The goal of a neck surgery is to take the pressure off the nerve root or in some cases off the spinal cord. The question posed is: which surgery is right for me? ACDF has been around since the 1950s and it's the most common cervical spine operation performed in the U.S., estimated at about 137,000 operations per year. It's considered the gold-standard surgery for cervical disc degeneration. “Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion” is a mouthful, but in short, it means to remove a herniated, bulging/damaged disc. The discs are like the spine's shock absorbers. The main goal of a surgeon when performing a cervical operation is to help relieve the pain that the patient is experiencing since the accident and to help regain the neck's normal range of motion.

Some experts state that the disc replacement is better than ACDF for younger patients since it preserves motion and it helps prevent other areas of the spine from wearing out.

If you experienced a work injury or an automobile accident recently and need help to find the right doctor to treat your injuries, do give us a call. We work with excellent surgeons that have a well-known reputation in the medical ranks in the Metro Atlanta area.