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What is an Anterior Cervical Discectomy?

An anterior cervical discectomy is neck surgery. The neck is entered from the front and the damaged cervical disc is removed.

Your healthcare professional may recommend an ACDF if you are suffering from disc herniation or degeneration in the upper part of the spine known as the cervical area. The Anterior Cervical Discectomy is a procedure that involves surgically entering the front (anterior) of the neck (cervical) and removing a damaged cervical disc (discectomy). Implants of bone and/or metal are put in place of the damaged disc and act to fuse the two vertebrae together.

Who needs an Anterior Cervical Discectomy?

If you experience some of the following conditions or symptoms, you may be a candidate for an ACDF.

Your healthcare provider can review the exact symptoms and causes that apply to you and why you may be a candidate for the anterior cervical discectomy with fusion. 

  • Weakness in your hand or arm
  • Arm pain that is more severe than neck pain
  • Numbness/weakness in arms and extremities
  • Degenerative discs or herniated discs
  • Other cervical symptoms that have failed to respond to medication or physical therapy


We make an incision across the front of the neck to gain access to the cervical spine.

Disc Removal

We remove the damaged disc, relieving pressure from the previously pinched nerve roots. Space is made above and below the removed disc, making room for the bone graft.

Bone Graft Insertion

We insert the bone graft between the vertebrae, in the space made for it in the previous step.

Metal Plate Attachment

We may attach a metal plate to the area to hold the bones in place during the healing process.


The bone graft binds with the vertebrae, growing together to help stabilize the spine.

Surgery & Recovery

Recovery time is specific for each patient, but your surgeon will have a recovery plan to get you back to normal after the operation.

Typically, patients are walking around by the end of the day, and able to return to work in 3 to 6 weeks, depending on how they have healed and the level of activity involved.

This material is intended to give the patient an overview of surgical procedures and treatments and is not intended to replace the advice and guidance of a physician. Always consult with your doctor about the particular risks and benefits of your treatment.

Our Physicians

Jonathan D. Chilton, MD FAANS – EMERITUS
William S. Rosenberg, MD FAANS
Peter Basta, MD, FAANS
Jayson A. Neil, MD, FAANS
Samuel Taylon, MD, FAANS
Frances Hardaway, MD, FAANS
Matthew J. Pierson, MD