By Brooke Strickland and Dr. Andrew Cash
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is a surgical procedure that removes a herniated disc in the neck. Discectomy means, literally, to cut out the disc, and anterior means that the doctor will reach the herniated disc through the front of the neck, through the throat area. The reason for this is because it is more convenient to reach the back part of the neck this way and has less risk of disturbing the spinal cord, nerves, and muscles on the back part of the neck. Sometimes, multiple discs can be removed this way.
When the disc is taken out, there will be an empty space, so the doctor will use a bone graft to fill the vacant area. This allows for a spinal fusion to form between the vertebrae. After time and once healing begins, new bone cells will connect the bones together and ultimately, one solid bone will form.
There are a few different types of bone grafts. The first is bone that comes from your own body. There are also bones that have been given by a donor, or a bone graft substitute that is usually made of different material, usually plastic, ceramic, or other absorbable compounds. These will all work together to help regrow bone where the discs have been taken out.
Ask your doctor if you’re a candidate for this type of procedure. You may be a candidate if you have a herniated or degenerative disc, have significant weakness in your arms or hands, or if your symptoms have not improved with medication or physical therapy routines.
For more information, contact Dr. Cash for an appointment at www.disclv.com.