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What are the risks of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery?

The risks and potential complications of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) surgery (a surgery to treat damaged or worn disks in your neck) include:
  • Blood loss. Blood loss from ACDF is usually very small. But as with any surgery, there is always the potential for major or even life-threatening blood loss.
  • Hoarse voice or swallowing difficulties.
  • Failure of fusion (fewer than 1 in 50 cases). If the bone fusion fails to heal, you may need to have more surgery.
  • Infection (fewer than 1 in 100 cases). Even with antibiotics and careful sterile techniques, there is still a very small risk of developing a wound infection.
  • Damage to spinal nerves or the spinal cord (fewer than 1 in 10,000 cases). If nerves or the spinal cord are damaged, you could be left with permanent pain, numbness or weakness in your arms or legs.
  • Failure to relieve symptoms. Your surgeon will do everything possible to give you the best results. Even so, surgery may not relieve all your symptoms.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.