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Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF)

A 42-year-old patient initially presented with occasional neck pain, headaches, and dizziness. Over time, these symptoms worsened, leading to numbness, pain, and weakness in the shoulders, neck, and hands. Seeking medical advice, the patient consulted a neurosurgeon who recommended an MRI scan. The scan revealed a cervical disc herniation compressing the spinal cord and nerves.

Cervical spine disorders are commonly caused by degeneration, wear and tear, or injury. Typical symptoms include neck and back pain, headaches, numbness and pain in the limbs, muscle weakness, balance issues, unsteady gait, frequent urination, nocturia, constipation, dizziness, tinnitus, gastrointestinal discomfort, and even emotional instability.

The patient had tried various treatments, including Eastern and Western medicine, physical therapy, chiropractic care, and acupuncture, but the condition fluctuated. After years of enduring this condition, the patient opted for a definitive surgical solution: Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF).

ACDF, a minimally invasive surgery, involves making a small 2-3 cm incision along the horizontal neck crease. Guided by a microscope and X-ray, the neurosurgeon meticulously removes the diseased cervical disc and bone spurs with precision, decompressing the central and cervical nerves. An artificial disc is then implanted to fill the gap between the vertebrae, stabilising the cervical spine.

The surgery, typically lasting 3 hours, requires a hospital stay of 1-2 days. The patient experienced immediate relief from the numbness and pain in the shoulders, neck, and hands after waking from anesthesia, with notable improvement in muscle strength. The patient was discharged the next day, with only a small 2-3 cm incision on the neck.

In cases involving multiple herniated discs, the surgeon may remove several discs in one operation, implanting either 'active' or 'passive' artificial discs based on the patient's condition, which may extend the surgery duration.

In conclusion, protecting nerve function is the primary goal of neurosurgeons. Under the care of experienced neurosurgeons, minimally invasive cervical spine surgery is a safe and low-risk option compared to more invasive brain or spinal surgeries.

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