Anterior cervical decompression is a surgical procedure performed to relieve pressure on the nerve roots exiting the spinal column or on the spinal cord itself.

This can help relieve the pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness caused by nerve compression. An anterior cervical decompression is usually accompanied by a surgical fusion procedure, which allows two vertebrae to fuse together after the decompression to add stability to the spine.

Dr.Wascher and Anterior Cervical Decompression

(Includes ACDs and corpectomies)





Why Is It Done?

Anterior cervical decompression with fusion helps to relieve symptoms arising from pressure on the spinal cord and/or on nerve roots. When conservative measures such as medications and physical therapy fail to achieve the desired relief, anterior cervical decompression and fusion offers an alternative treatment option.


An incision is made in the lower portion of the front of the neck in order to access the spine.

Blood vessels and organs such as the trachea and esophagus are carefully moved aside to allow this access. The herniated or diseased disc is then removed along with any bone spurs that may be causing nerve compression. A portion of the posterior longitudinal ligament that extends along the backside of the vertebral bodies may also be removed.

Once the disc, bone spurs, and ligament are removed, a fusion is performed by inserting a bone graft or titanium cage into the gap. Over time, the bone graft fuses with the vertebrae above and below to create a healthy bone mass. In some cases, a metal plate may be screwed over the area to create additional strength and support. The fusion may require several months to be mature into a solid mass.


Anterior cervical decompression removes pressure from the nerve roots and spinal cord in order to relieve neck pain and other symptoms. For some patients, this is their only solution for eliminating debilitating neck pain, weakness, and tingling.


As with all surgeries, anterior cervical decompression and fusion has some risks. For example, the bone graft inserted during the fusion might not fuse properly. This complication arises most often with smokers and those who fail to restrict neck movement after surgery. People with certain medical conditions such as diabetes or who use steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are also at higher risk. As a result, the fusion procedure may need to be repeated or a second fusion surgery performed posteriorly may become necessary.


Other potential complications of anterior cervical decompression and fusion include nerve damage, infection, excessive bleeding, damage to the trachea or esophagus, or the formation of a blood clot. There may also be a negative reaction to the anesthesia. Plus, in some cases, anterior cervical decompression and fusion may not completely relieve the symptoms. It is important to discuss these issues with your surgeon before undergoing the procedure.

Tom Wascher M.D. will review your imaging studies free of charge or, if needed, provide you with a second opinion. He has performed over 4,000+ cervical spine surgeries during his career and wants to see that you receive the best treatment possible. He is a competent and caring surgeon who has your best interests in mind.

Testimonials From Our Past Patients

3-Level Anterior Cervical Fusion

Vanessa had years of neck pain leaving her unable to even do her daily work. But with Dr. Wascher’s quick and timely intervention that included multiple viewings of MRIs, muscle and nerve tests, followed by a 3-Level Anterior Cervical Fusion, she is now happy without any neck issues. “I can happily say that by following the recommendations of Dr. Wascher, I am now pain-free,” says Vanessa as she talks about how great Dr. Wascher and his team were to work with.

Posterior laminectomy with fusion

When Nanette experienced deep pain in her shoulder, she got tests performed only to discover that she in fact had issues with her neck instead. After a few MRIs and scans, she contacted Dr. Wascher, who told her that she has bone spurs going into the spinal cord. Within a span of 3 weeks, she was able to go through surgery and get on the road to recovery. “I cannot say enough about Dr. Wascher’s expertise and empathy”, says Nanette as she joins an ever-growing community of people who, through Dr. Wascher and his team, have found happiness again.

Healthgrade Ratings and Reviews