Anterior Cervical Fusion (ACF) is a procedure that stabilizes the back by grafting any number of the two to seven vertebrae together. This prevents motion and eases pain. As patients heal, the graft and vertebrae grow together. The procedure is done from the front of the neck.
What to expect
Under general anesthesia, a small incision is made to one side of the neck at the collar line. The trachea, or windpipe, and the esophagus are pulled to one side to give clear access to the front of the vertebral bodies and to the discs so that discs and bone spurs can be removed easily. A small piece of bone, either from the patient or from a donor, is placed in the space where the disc was removed. Sometimes, doctors will use surgical wires, rods, screws, metal cages or plates, and a titanium plate may be put over the bone plug to prevent it from moving.
The windpipe and the food pipe are returned to their right place and the incision is closed. The entire procedure takes one to three hours.
How to prepare
Smokers should cut down or stop in the days before the surgery. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before. Arrangements should be made for a ride home. The doctor will advise the patient of any medications prohibited before the surgery.