What it is
Anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion (ACCF) is performed when cervical disease encompasses more than just the disc space and requires removal of the vertebra, as well as the disc spaces at either end to completely decompress and relieve the cervical canal. Once removed, the empty disc space must be replaced with a piece of bone graft and mended (fused) together to maintain stability.
This procedure is similar to discectomy, except a larger and more vertical incision in the neck will be required to allow more exposure so that the entire vertebra can be removed. In some cases, both disc and bone may be pressing on the spinal cord and a combination of discectomy and corpectomy may be performed. Once the vertebra, disc(s), bone spurs and disc fragments are removed, a spinal fusion is required to stabilize the spine. Spinal fusion is essentially a “welding” process. The basic idea is to fuse together spinal bones (vertebrae) so that they heal into a single, solid bone.
In addition to bone grafts, metal plates and screws are commonly used to fuse the bones in place. Fusion will take away some spinal flexibility. The degree of limitation depends upon how many spine segments or “levels” are involved.