ACDF health

What is ACDF surgery?

When the doctor told me I needed to see a surgeon about my neck, I thought there was no way I’d end up on the operating table. I figured he’d suggest different physical therapy, maybe some serious traction, but he was pretty clear.

This is the worst illustration of ACDF that I’ve seen, but it was the only “free” art I could find.

Doctor: Do you spend most of you time with your arm on top of your head just to get comfortable?

Me: Yes.

Doctor: And how far down your arm are the pins and needles? Are they do you thumb yet?

Me: Yes.

Doctor: And how did physical therapy go?

Me: Well, it sort of hurt.

Doctor: Yeah, I would expect that. So, we’ll get you a cage.

A cage is not what it sounds like at all. It’s ACDF surgery, or anterior cervical disectomy fusion. Here is a little video explaining it:

Things that my surgeon noted for me:

  • My incision will be on the rightt side of my throat and it will be a vertical incision. He will move my thyroid, voicebox and trachea out of the way. The result can be difficulty swallowing or my voice changing. I’m going to hope that results in a better singing voice.
  • My cage will be made with the bones from my existing bone spurs. They are fairly large, so he will trim them off and use them in this tiny little spacer that he will put in between my C5 and C6 vertebrae.
  • Now, there is some discrepency over what is going to happen next. I thitink they are done and will sew me up. My husband said they will be using a plate and pins to stablize things.

After surgery, I’ll be put into a hard brace, which I’ll have to wear for 12 weeks. After 6 weeks, I’ll be able to take it off inside the house.

I’ll also have to spend the night in the hospital. Once I’ve seen occupational therapy and the doctor and made sure that I’m on the road to recovery, I’ll be released.

My first post-surgical visit is on New Year’s Eve.

The entire thing is terrifying, but at least I know the ins and outs of it all. Today I even looked up the actual surgery and not just an illustration. It’s pretty gross. I do not recommend.

Tomorrow is my pre-surgical appointment. Hopefully that brings a thumbs up to get this show on the road.