Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion in Orange County, CA
Unable to find a solution to your neck pain? Neck and arm pain can have many causes, but when it is caused by problems in the spinal column, anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) may be necessary. Call our Mission Viejo office now to schedule your appointment: 949-388-7190.
Benefits of Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion Procedure
The Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) procedure stands as a beacon of hope for those suffering from debilitating spinal conditions, offering a return to function and freedom from pain with a proven track record of success.
ACDF directly targets the source of cervical discomfort, offering a significant reduction in pain and a smoother path back to daily activities.
By stabilizing the spine, this procedure allows for a greater range of motion, empowering patients to move more freely and confidently.
Prevention of Further Degeneration
ACDF is a proactive step that not only addresses current spinal issues but also helps prevent future cervical spine deterioration.
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Surgical solution to neck and arm pain or numbness
When discs in the upper (cervical) spine develop problems, nerves may become compressed or pinched, causing chronic discomfort. By removing the problem disc and stabilizing the spine with a fusion procedure, patients can improve their quality of life and reduce the need for pain medication.
Alexander Taghva, M.D., F.A.A.N.S., is a board-certified neurosurgeon specializing in spinal procedures, including ACDF, in Orange County, CA. Patients can often undergo this complex cervical spine surgery as an outpatient procedure and get quick relief from a bulging or herniated disc, bone spurs, and other problems in the cervical spine.
Before ACDF Surgery: About the spine
Comprised of a series of bones called vertebrae, discs, and facet joints, the spine is an essential part of the human body. These components interlock and provide stability and flexibility for the body, as well as protection for the spinal cord.
Each intervertebral disc, which rests between two vertebrae, is essential for mobility and shock absorption. But, discs may become damaged over time due to unbalanced pressure, poor posture, degenerative disc disease, or injury.
When discs become damaged, their soft, gel-like nucleus may dry out and stiffen, causing them to bulge. Disc herniation occurs when a crack develops in the tough outer layer, causing the material inside the disc to leak out and cause irritation in the nerve roots. Slight damage to the discs can sometimes be fixed by removing a portion of a damaged disc, but other cases require total removal and fusion or replacement.
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What is Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion?
Dr. Alexander Taghva offers anterior cervical discectomy and fusion to Orange County patients experiencing neck and arm pain or numbness that is unresponsive to non-surgical treatments. ACDF is a surgical intervention performed to remove a damaged disc in the cervical spine and fuse the vertebrae.
Most patients notice significantly less pain once they have healed from cervical fusion surgery in Mission Viejo, CA. Dr. Taghva customizes the procedure to meet each patient’s unique needs.
Candidates for ACDF in Orange County
ACDF surgery is a good option for some patients, but it is not appropriate in every case. In general, Dr. Taghva will recommend more conservative treatment options before resorting to surgical approaches. The only way to determine the best treatment solution is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Taghva.
Good candidates for anterior cervical discectomy with fusion at our Mission Viejo practice include men and women who are suffering from one or more of the following in the cervical spine:
- Damaged disc (or discs)
- Compression of the nerve root
- Herniated disc
- Bulging disc
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal stenosis
- Bone spurs
Many of these problems can be solved or managed with non-surgical or minimally invasive surgery options. However, more advanced spine disorders may require spinal fusion surgery or artificial disc replacement. If left untreated, compression of the nerves and spinal cord can cause serious damage.
Your ACDF Consultation in Mission Viejo, CA
During the consultation, Dr. Taghva reviews the patient’s medical history and reviews any diagnostic images that have been taken. He asks patients about their symptoms and may request additional images or tests before making a diagnosis and creating a custom treatment plan.
If Dr. Taghva believes that the patient is a good candidate for the ACDF procedure, he will explain the entire process and invite the patient to ask any questions they may have. If not, he may suggest non-surgical treatments or a different minimally invasive spine surgery instead.
Preparing for ACDF Surgery
Before cervical discectomy and fusion in Mission Viejo, patients will be given detailed instructions for pre- and post-operative care, which should be followed closely to reduce the risk of complications. Dr. Taghva may order blood tests, an ECG (electrocardiogram), or X-rays to ensure that the patient is healthy enough for surgery.
Patients will need to stop smoking well in advance of the procedure—ideally several months before surgery. Nicotine hinders the healing process and can cause problems during the surgery itself, especially with the use of general anesthesia.
Anti-inflammatory medication should be avoided for about a week before the surgery. Patients should refrain from drinking alcohol a week before the procedure and may need to stop taking some supplements as well. Dr. Taghva’s office provides each surgical patient with a comprehensive list of supplements and medications to avoid prior to surgery.
Patients need to make arrangements for someone to drive them home on the day of surgery. Also, it is best to have someone stay with the patient for the first few days after surgery to help them during the recovery time.
The Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion Procedure
Dr. Alexander Taghva typically performs anterior cervical discectomy and fusion procedures in Orange County on an outpatient basis. During the procedure, patients are put under general anesthesia, but will usually be released on the same day.
ACDF is performed through the front of the neck, with the patient lying on their back. Once the anesthesia has been administered, Dr. Taghva makes an incision (about 2 inches long) on one side of the neck. He then moves different structures in the neck to the side so that he can access the spinal column.
Once he has access to the discs of the cervical spine, Dr. Taghva locates the damaged disc and carefully removes it. He then removes or resolves any material that may be compressing the spinal nerves, such as a bone spur. The area where the spinal nerves exit may also be enlarged to relieve pressure.
Dr. Taghva will then prepare to fill in the disc space left behind by the discectomy. This may involve taking a bone graft and making another incision, often in the hip area. The two vertebrae that will surround the graft or spacer are prepared to receive it so that all three parts will fuse during healing.
Finally, a metal plate and screws may be placed to keep the graft in place during fusion and to add extra stability. The incision(s) are closed and the patient is taken into recovery. The procedure typically takes 1-3 hours to perform.
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Recovering from ACDF
Many anterior cervical discectomy and fusion patients in Mission Viejo can go home on the day of surgery and are often sitting and walking soon after the procedure. Some discomfort is to be expected but can be controlled with the help of pain medications. Patients may have a sore throat, hoarseness, or difficulty swallowing that should resolve within a few weeks.
Patients should get plenty of rest and may need to wear a soft neck brace for several weeks after surgery. They should avoid looking up or down and should not lift anything over 5 pounds. Light activity, such as walking, will help encourage healing. Physical therapy may also be recommended.
Strenuous exercise, driving, sex, swimming, and tub baths will need to be avoided until Dr. Taghva gives the all-clear. Patients will also need to avoid nicotine products and alcohol during recovery and must refrain from using NSAID medications for a minimum of six months.
Dr. Taghva provides patients with detailed instructions and information about restrictions after spinal surgery. Several follow-up appointments will be scheduled to ensure that healing and fusion are progressing normally. Though full cervical fusion can take a year, most patients feel better 4 to 6 weeks after surgery and are nearly back to normal a few months after surgery.
Risks of ACDF in Orange County
Like all surgical procedures, ACDF at our Mission Viejo facility is associated with some risks. Dr. Taghva’s skill and experience limit the risks, but patients need to be aware of the potential complications and follow all pre and post-operative care instructions carefully to help prevent any problems. Risks may include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Anesthesia complications
- Failed fusion
- Graft shifting/migration
- Persistent hoarseness/trouble swallowing
- Nerve damage
- Added wear on other vertebrae and discs
Why Choose Dr. Alexander Taghva
Dr. Alexander Taghva is a leading board-certified neurosurgeon, specializing in brain surgery, endoscopic spine surgery, as well as spine disorders. Also, he is the only spine surgeon in Orange County and southern California who offers endoscopic laminotomy surgery. Dr. Taghva:
- Graduated from John Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed his residency at the University of California
- Completed a prestigious fellowship at The Ohio State University in Neuromodulation and Functional Neurosurgery
- Specializes in minimally invasive and endoscopic surgery, spinal stenosis, artificial disc replacement, spinal disorders, spinal surgery revision, and other spinal conditions.
- Specializes in brain surgery to treat trigeminal neuralgia, brain tumors, pituitary tumors, and Parkinson’s disease.
- A highly-respected neurosurgeon with many years of experience, including treating chronic pain via stimulation of the spinal cord and brain
- Actively involved in medical research and the lead investigator for clinical trials on spinal cord stimulation
Frequently Asked Questions About ACDF
While ACDF does remove an intervertebral disc and replaces it with an inflexible bone graft, most patients already have trouble with some activities even before undergoing surgery. The surgery may technically reduce mobility, but most patients gain mobility and comfort because they are no longer suffering from chronic pain and numbness that limits comfortable movement.
ACDF involves removing a damaged cervical disc and replacing it with a bone graft or another spacer, while disc replacement involves replacing it with an artificial disc. Disc replacement is a better option than anterior cervical discectomy and fusion for some Orange County patients, but not for others.
Spinal fusion is a procedure that is performed when a spinal disc is damaged beyond repair. The disc is removed to relieve pressure and resolve chronic pain. Then, a bone graft is placed in the disc space before it is screwed into place. Over a year or so, the bones fuse together and create a more stable, but less flexible spine.
Many patients with herniated discs find relief with non-surgical treatment. Dr. Taghva often recommends less invasive therapies before performing surgery. However, if the pain from a herniated disc lasts longer than 6 weeks, a minimally invasive cervical surgery like anterior cervical discectomy and fusion may be the best option.
If you live near Mission Viejo, CA, Dr. Taghva offers Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion surgery among its services, and is conveniently located at 26732 Crown Valley Pkwy Suite 541, Mission Viejo, CA 92691