What Is the ACF Technique?


If you’re suffering from disc herniation or degeneration in the upper part of your spine (known as the cervical area), an Anterior Cervical Fusion (ACF) may be recommended. ACF involves surgically entering the front (anterior) of the neck and removing a damaged cervical disc. Implants of bone and/or metal are put in place of the damaged disc and act to fuse the two vertebra together.

The conditions or symptoms that may require the need for an ACF include:

  • Weakness in your hand or arm
  • Arm pain that is more severe than neck pain
  • Numbness/weakness in arms and extremities
  • Degenerative discs or herniated discs
  • Other cervical symptoms that have failed to respond to medication or physical therapy

The surgical steps in the ACF procedure are as follows:

  • Incision/Disc Removal. An incision is made across the front of the neck to gain access to the cervical spine. The damaged disc is then removed, relieving pressure from the previously pinched nerve roots. Space is made above and below the removed disc, making room for the bone graft.
  • Bone Graft Insertion. The bone graft is inserted between the vertebra, in the space made for it in the previous step.
  • Metal Plate Attachment. A metal plate may be attached to the area to hold the bones in place during the healing process. The bone graft binds with the vertebra, growing together to help stabilize the spine.

Recovery time following an ACF can vary widely. Some patients are able to return to work within a few days or a week after surgery. Others start physical therapy about four weeks after surgery, and continue for two to three months.

For more information and a consultation, please feel free to contact my office at your earliest convenience. I’m always available to answer any questions or concerns!

Dr. Stephen P. Courtney, M.D.

Stephen P. Courtney, M.D. is a board-certified, fellowship trained orthopedic spine surgeon by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery and the founder of the spine division at Plano Orthopedic Sports Medicine and Spine Center. He has been practicing medicine in Plano since 1995 and has developed his practice exclusively for neck and back disorders.

Dr. Courtney has been Chief of Orthopedic Surgery at the Medical Center of Plano and a member of the hospitals Executive and Operating Room Committees. Dr. Courtney has also founded a spine company known as Eminent Spine, which is a medical device company that manufactures spinal implants sold throughout the United States. He travels the country training other physicians on how to utilize these products.

Selected as one of Dallas’ Best Doctors by D Magazine, Dr. Courtney is known for his straight-forward, honest approach and operates only if clearly indicated with proven techniques which has earned him an excellent reputation among his professional colleagues, medical peers and patients.

Dr. Courtney is a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, North American Spine Society and the Texas Spine Society.


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