Anterior Cervical Corpectomy and Fusion (ACCF)

Anterior Cervical Corpectomy and Fusion, or ACCF, refers to a surgical procedure in which the operating surgeon completely removes a spinal vertebra and associated disc before inserting a bone graft and fusing the surrounding vertebra. Physicians use ACCFs to relieve severe or chronic stenosis in a patient’s spine. As a relatively invasive procedure, physicians tend to suggest ACCFs as a last resort after exhausting all other conservative treatment options.

Surgical Procedure

While similar to discectomy, this procedure requires a larger and more vertical incision in the neck to allow more exposure so that the surgeon can remove the entire vertebra.  In some cases, both the vertebral disc and bone may put pressure on the spinal cord and the surgeon may perform a combination of discectomy and corpectomy.  Once the surgeon removes the vertebra, disc(s), bone spurs and disc fragments, the patient undergoes a spinal fusion to stabilize the spine.  Spinal fusion essentially “welds” the spine. Physicians fuse together spinal bones (vertebrae) so that they heal into a single, solid bone.

In addition to bone grafts, Surgeons commonly use metal plates and screws to fuse the bones in place. Fusion will take away some amount of spinal flexibility. The degree of limitation depends upon how many spine segments or “levels” fuse.

How long does a Spinal Fusion procedure typically take?

The spinal fusion surgery can take as little as 2 hours and as long as 6 or 7 hours or even more. The duration of the operation depends upon the number of vertebrae being fused and the condition of the vertebrae. Complications during the operation can make the condition worse and take more time, eventually.

What does recovery from Spinal Fusion look like?

Recovery from a spinal fusion surgery depends upon the type of procedure performed. Usually, patients require about 3.7 days of hospital stay after the surgery. Some patients can return home on the same day after surgery if they undergo a simple cervical spinal fusion at the hospital. Minimally invasive surgeries help to reduce the time spent at the hospital. Recovery of the patient usually involves avoiding certain activities and rehabilitation training. Most people can walk the day after surgery and can sit at 1–6 weeks following surgery.