Anterior Cervical Corpectomy and Fusion – Everything You Need to Know

An anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion (ACCF) is a procedure that is typically performed to remove large, arthritic bone spurs that are compressing the cervical canal. In order to do so, the vertebral body and disc material must be removed to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord and nerves in the neck, or cervical spine. This approach usually involves accessing the cervical spine from the front of the body. Using bone graft, a spinal fusion is then performed to help maintain normal disc height and stabilize the spine.

Why is an Anterior Cervical Corpectomy and Fusion Needed?

Nerve compression in the cervical spine can result in pain, tingling, numbness and/or weakness that can extend into the shoulders, arms and hands. Individuals who have not found relief for these symptoms with conservative treatments may find ACCF to be a reliable solution. This procedure may also be recommended by your surgeon if you have one of the following conditions:

  • Degenerative spinal condition such as herniated discs or bone spurs
  • Spinal fractures, infection, or tumor is putting pressure on the spinal nerves
  • Advanced cervical stenosis, or a narrowing of the spinal canal
  • Severe spinal cord compression that results in weakness and numbness in the extremities, difficulty walking, loss of coordination or incontinence

What to Expect from an Anterior Cervical Corpectomy and Fusion Procedure

An ACCF is usually performed under general anesthesia. While this procedure is similar to a discectomy, a larger incision is made in the neck for this procedure in order to allow a bigger area of exposure. Take a more in-depth look at what you can expect before, during and after an ACCF:

  • Before the Procedure: Make sure to notify your doctor of any medications you are taking or might be allergic to. Avoid eating and drinking anything several hours prior to your surgery or as directed by your doctor. On the day of your surgery, take off any makeup and remove jewelry, eyeglasses and dentures.
  • During the Procedure: A small incision is made to the right or left of the middle of your neck where the muscles and tissue will gently be retracted to expose the spine. A portion of the vertebral body and disc is removed to reach neutral structures and relieve pressure on the cervical spine by removing the source of the compression. A bone graft is placed between the adjacent vertebrae around the surgical site and plating and screws are attached to provide additional support and stability. The incision is then closed using sutures and a small gauze is placed over the top.
  • After the Procedure: Soon after the procedure, you may notice immediate relief of some symptoms while other symptoms may improve more gradually. Avoid bending and twisting the neck as much as possible within the first 4-6 weeks of the postoperative period. With the help of a physical therapist, you can gradually work your way towards full mobility. Follow your doctor’s exact post-operative recovery plan to ensure you can get back to your daily routine as soon as possible.

The Benefits of an Anterior Cervical Corpectomy and Fusion Procedure

The results of an ACCF are generally good and it provides the patient with several benefits. While the treatment and outcome results can vary, some of the benefits of undergoing this minimally invasive procedure may include:

  • Creates more space for the spinal cord and nerves
  • Improves symptoms of pain, numbness and weakness in the upper extremities
  • Complete removal of cervical discs that are triggering pain
  • Provides spinal stability and improves neck posture

Work closely with a spinal surgeon you can trust at Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic. With over 20 years of experience in the field of neuroscience, Dr. Lewis has given countless patients their lives back through innovative surgical procedures. Get in touch for a one-on-one consultation to help answer any questions you may have, in addition to discussing the risks and benefits related to ACCF.

Contact us today to learn more about cervical corpectomy and fusion or to schedule a consultation. We’ll find a solution that works for you. Call us at (601) 366-1011.