During the anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery you'll be lying on your back. The surgeon makes a small incision in the front of the neck directly over the disc and creates a pathway to the spine by moving the muscles to the side, somewhat like opening a curtain. This pathway will expose the damaged disc. The surgeon will first remove any bone spurs and disc fragments pressing on the nerves or spinal cord.
If the disc has collapsed from disease, the vertebrae are moved back into their normal position.
To repair the damaged disc, the surgeon then inserts an implant into the space between the vertebrae. Your surgeon may choose to use either an implant made from synthetic material or from actual bone. This implant acts as a support between the two vertebrae to hold them in place while they heal. In order to stimulate fusion and healing of the bone, the surgeon will insert bone graft or other special materials into the disc space.
Finally, the surgeon may need to further strengthen the reconstruction with the addition of a small metal plate and screws. This extra support may aid in bone healing.
The surgeon then completes the surgery by closing the incision area, and may choose to place a small drain at the site for a day or two. Over several months, the vertebral bones and the bone graft material inside the implant will fuse together and become one solid block.