ACDF Surgery: A Minimally Invasive Approach

At UVNN, our neurosurgeons are renowned for their commitment to exceptional care using the latest advancements in minimally invasive techniques. Pioneering the use of intraoperative computer-assisted imaging in spinal fusion surgery, we offer a leading-edge approach that ensures enduring relief and swifter recovery for our patients.

UVNN is a top rated cervical fusion practice and has been recognized as best in class by US News and World Report for perfect scores in overall patient experience. Our surgeons continue to push the frontiers of spine care. Utilizing the latest surgical techniques, they are at the forefront of revolutionizing spine care through advanced surgical techniques and spearheading cutting-edge research to continually enhance treatment outcomes. UVNN neurosurgeons are experienced in anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) surgery. 

What is Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) Surgery?

ACDF surgery, commonly referred to as cervical fusion, is a minimally invasive procedure used to fuse together the bones of the cervical spine (neck). The surgery is used to treat patients suffering from chronic pain, nerve compression, and spinal instability as a result of cervical spondylosis or trauma to the spine. 

Surgery may be recommended for people with degenerative disk disease, spinal stenosis, and other conditions. Repairing the break down of the discs between the vertebrae can alleviate the patient’s pain, discomfort, and associated symptoms. 

The ACDF procedure consists of two main components:

    • Anterior Cervical Discectomy: This involves accessing the cervical spine through the front of the neck to remove the problematic disc located between two vertebral bones.

    • Fusion: Concurrently with the discectomy, fusion is performed to stabilize the cervical segment. This entails placing bone graft and/or implants in the space left by the removed disc to promote fusion and enhance structural integrity.


Advantages of the anterior surgical approach include:

    • Direct Access: The anterior approach allows direct visualization of the cervical discs, facilitating precise removal and decompression of nerves and the spinal cord.


    • Minimized Postoperative Pain: Compared to posterior approaches, the anterior approach typically results in less incisional pain due to minimal muscle dissection.

Every ACDF procedure is tailored to the individual patient’s needs, with various options and considerations impacting its success and potential complications. Patients are encouraged to engage in comprehensive discussions with our surgeons regarding factors such as the number of levels to be addressed, the choice of implants, and the type of bone graft.


While ACDF remains a commonly performed procedure for cervical disc pathology, Upper Valley Neurology Neurosurgery also offers innovative alternatives such as M6-C cervical disc replacement, providing patients with comprehensive treatment options for their conditions.

Cervical Discectomy & Fusion Treats Patient Disorders

Symptoms of cervical spine disorders commonly include: 

  • Pain and/or numbness in the arms, legs, shoulders or neck 
  • Muscle weakness in the arms or legs
  • Instability or deformity in the cervical spine 
  • Reduced sensation in your hands and/or feet
  • Vision problems such as abnormal eye movements or double vision 
  • Throat abnormalities including problems swallowing 
  • Difficulty with speech such as hoarseness or slurred speech
  • Loss of coordination 
  • Urinary Urgency 
  • Imbalance 

Causes of Cervical Spine Disorders:

What to Expect During ACDF Surgery?

ACDF surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that uses small incisions and special instruments to access the cervical spine. The surgeon will remove any damaged discs or vertebrae and then fuse the remaining bones together.

During cervical fusion surgery, the surgeon may place bone grafts between the vertebrae. The bone grafts will eventually grow and fuse the vertebrae together.

Post Operative Surgical Care

After ACDF surgery patients will spend some time in the recovery room where they will be monitored by our post op team. The majority of patients will return home on the day of surgery.

Once home, it is important to take it easy and follow the surgeon’s instructions for post-operative care. This may include physical therapy and other exercises to help patients recover and regain strength. Complete recovery from cervical spinal discectomy and fusion can take several months.

Risks and Complications

As with any surgery, there are associated risks. Complications are rare and can be minimized by following the post operative care instructions provided by our patient care team.

ACDF Surgery Risks may include:

  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Blood clots
  • Persistent pain
  • Hardware failure
  • Unsuccessful Fusion

ACDF Surgery: Commonly Asked Questions

Your doctor will assess your condition and recommend surgery if it’s deemed necessary based on factors such as severity of symptoms, response to conservative treatments, and potential for long-term complications if left untreated.

Non-surgical alternatives may include physical therapy, medication, spinal injections, chiropractic care, lifestyle modifications, and more. Your doctor will determine the most suitable options based on your specific condition.

You can learn more about our surgeon’s experience and qualifications here. Surgeons with significant experience in spinal surgery tend to have better outcomes.

Your surgeon will discuss potential risks and complications with you, which may include infection, blood loss, nerve damage, or a failed fusion (if applicable).

Success rates can vary depending on factors such as the type of surgery and the individual’s overall health. Your surgeon will provide you with relevant success rate data based on your condition.

Anesthesia options may include general anesthesia or regional anesthesia. Your anesthesiologist will discuss the risks associated with the chosen method.

Surgery duration and recovery time can vary depending on the complexity of the procedure and individual factors. Your surgeon will provide estimates based on your specific case.

Post-operative rehabilitation, including physical therapy, is often recommended to help improve strength, mobility, and overall recovery.

Pain levels vary from person to person. Your healthcare team will provide pain management options tailored to your needs, which may include medications, physical therapy, and other techniques.

Your surgeon will provide guidelines on activity restrictions, proper lifting techniques, and other lifestyle modifications to support your recovery and prevent complications.