ACDF is a common surgical procedure to treat nerve root or spinal cord compression by decompressing the spinal cord and nerve roots of the cervical spine in order to stabilize the corresponding vertebrae. This procedure is used when other non-surgical treatments such as steroid treatment and physical therapy have failed.
An incision is made through the front of the neck and a retractor is used to move the neck muscles, trachea and esophagus to the side so the discs and vertebrae can be accessed. The disc is incised and removed. If necessary, bone spurs are ground off to increase the space in the spinal canal. Next, a small block of bone (bone graft) is placed between the vertebrae. The bone graft may be taken from a cadaver (allograft) or from the patient (autograft). Finally, a small titanium plate is screwed over the space between the vertebrae and held in place by small titanium screws.
NB: This site does not contain advice about whether or not to have the surgery, nor does it attempt to justify having the surgery. The purpose of this site is to relate our personal experiences and hopefully helpful information for those about to undergo the surgery.
Below are a collection of links that are useful, correct, rich in facts, and non-patronizing. Needless to say, it is a short list, but it does grow from time to time. Each of the descriptions below is a link — just click on the sentence, and that site will open in a new window.
This is probably the best video of the surgery itself. If blood and guts bothers you in the least, this is probably not a video for you. At this point I find it rather reassuring, especially when I see tools I recognize, such as screwdrivers, small sanders, and the like.
One woman’s story of practical post-op advice. This is a very unaffected discussion. According to the description, the video was made nine days post-op.
A general guide to the surgery put out by the Mayfield Clinic. There is a better version for physicians, but the public does not have access to it. Oh well. Everyone is selling something.
One pleasant surprise of my surgery has been that I really enjoy making and drinking fruit smoothies, especially when made with my homemade yogurt. Here is an easy-to-make and delicious strawberry mango smoothie recipe.
Mix the ingredients together in a blender and blend until all the chunks are gone.
A member on another forum posted a question that I thought might help some folks here as well. The question was from a long-time heavy weight-lifter about post-surgery restrictions and returning to the gym after ACDF surgery. Let me preface this by saying that I am not a doctor or any kind of medical professional. I’m an artist and computer programmer so this information is shared as simply my own personal experience. It should not be construed to be advice of any kind – medical or other. You should ONLY listen to your doctor when it comes to your health. I’d go so far as to say you should ONLY listen to your surgeon when it comes to your ACDF surgery. He/she is the expert. In my experience, a responsible doctor who does not specialize in this kind of surgery will defer to a neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon on this type of issue. So you should too.
A few weeks ago, we (Scott and I) received in an email with what has become known as the Neck Surgery Prayer:
“May your painkiller be strong, your recliner supportive, and your recovery swifter than expected” — S. R. Jacobs
Of these topics, only the recliner is wholly within your control.
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