Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is a combined surgical procedure to decompress spinal nerves and stabilize the cervical spine. This surgery is performed to relieve pain, numbness and weakness in the neck and upper back and to provide stability in this portion of the spine. As the name indicates, this procedure is performed through an incision at the front, or anterior, of one side of the neck. With this surgical approach, the disc can be accessed without disturbing the spinal cord, the neck muscles and uninvolved spinal nerves. The operation is performed under general anesthesia.
The cervical spine begins at the base of the skull and consists of seven vertebrae with discs between them. One of the most important parts of the body, the neck is also the most articulate portion of the spine, moving more freely and in more directions than the other sections. Beyond that, the cervical spine is also responsible for protecting the spinal cord and providing support to the skull, which in turn protects the brain. Because of the neck's vital functions, injury or disease of the cervical spine is a very serious condition.